Written by Joshua Dean
St George Illawarra Dragons are in a mess. There is no structure, in both attack and defence and they are sitting firmly in the wooden spoon position on the ladder. Although Paul McGregor was given a reprieve by the club’s board today, the writing is on the wall and his days as head coach are clearly numbered.
Let’s have a look at five candidates, in no particular order, that could replace McGregor at the Dragons.
The 2016 Premiership winning coach has been serving a ban by the NRL for the ASADA breaches at the Sharks. However, there is a possibility that Flanagan may be given an exemption to help save the Dragons. He is currently the assistant coach of the struggling side, so he is familiar and it’s a safe option for the Dragons. Flanagan is a very solid NRL coach and could re-create the winning culture that St George once had.
Everyone assumed that when Geoff Toovey got sacked by the Sea Eagles in 2015 he would be coaching another team almost immediately. However, that just hasn’t happened, with Toovey coaching Bradford in 2017 then becoming comfortable as a media analyst for the last few years. Now is the right time for him to come back as a head coach in the NRL. He has a very good winning percentage, winning 58% of his games while in charge of Manly. Toovey would bring much-needed structure and authority to a side that has become soft. His hard-nosed mentality will surely lead to success for the Red V, making him a great candidate for the role.
After a terrible stint at Newcastle, Nathan Brown has been tagged a below-average NRL Head Coach. However, he had great success with Huddersfield and St Helens, as well as a decent six-year period with the Dragons in the mid-2000s. This would be a full circle story and ‘Brownie’ would add some much-needed structure and attacking knowledge for halves Ben Hunt and Corey Norman. Returning back to the club could lead to a resurgence for both Brown and the Dragons.
Neil Henry has had the job of rebuilding a team from the ground up before. The former Raiders, Cowboys and Titans head coach has always been the man to rebuild a side and would have a tough task with this 2020 Dragons squad. He is one of the game’s best tacticians and would be able to find a plan to rebuild and re-establish the squad as a top eight side.
With brand new rule changes to the game making the game more fast-paced, the Walker brothers style of play could be perfect. There have been talks of clubs taking a risk with the duo before, however, they have never managed to secure an NRL gig. The Ipswich Jets have been dominate in the Queensland Cup, due to the quick-fire brand of play the brothers have created. Even though Ben Walker has now departed as co-head coach, he has made it clear that if an NRL club came knocking, he would return to the game. St George has struggled to score points this season, scoring only two points in their last two games. If the Dragons took a punt and signed the Walker Brothers, it could change the game as we know it.