Written by John Davidson
Paul McGregor is under massive fire and headed for the sack.
St George Illawarra were poor against the Warriors on the weekend and are yet to win a game this season. They have won just twice in their past 13 fixtures.
Last year they finished second-last and won just eight of 24 games. McGregor, a club legend, has been in charge at the Dragons since May 2014 with a 46% win percentage.
Since he took over they have yo-yoed, finishing 11th, eighth, eighth, ninth, seventh and 15th. It makes for uncomfortable reading.
The 52-year-old coach has unable to take them past just barely making the eight and get them into the top four, or a grand final. He’s had plenty of time, but it’s now time for a change.
Enter Shaun Wane.
Many in the NRL won’t know the pugnacious Englishman, but he is a perfect fit for the Red V.
At 55 he is experienced, successful and eager to prove himself in Australia. The current England national team coach, after taking over from Wayne Bennett, would be well-suited to the Dragons.
He was a tough, uncompromising forward as a player in the 1980s and 1990s, and he is a tough, imposing figure as a coach. In eight years as head coach of Wigan Warriors, he won everything on hand in Super League.
Wane got Wigan to four grand finals, winning three of them. Under him the Warrriors reached two World Club Challenges and two Challenge Cup finals, wining one of each. His winning percentage as a coach is 68%.
As an assistant Wane learned under Michael Maguire and like ‘Madge’, Wane’s teams are gritty, determined, defensively strong and difficult to beat. Wane would instill that toughness and mentality into the Red V.
A workaholic, the former Great Britain international has been studying the NRL for years. He has always wanted to coach down under. He also knows Ian Millward, St George Illawarra’s recruitment well.
Hell, he may be even able to entice his friend John Bateman, who he coached at Wigan, to come to Wollongong. That would be some coup.
St George Illawarra have a talented roster. They have the raw materials in Cam McInnes, Paul Vaughan, James Graham, Corey Norman, Ben Hunt, Euan Aitken, Trent Merrin and the Sims brothers to be a semi-finals team.
But they need a new coach to take over. Dean Young and Mathew Head have never coached in first-grade. Trent Barrett failed at Manly. Shane Flanagan is suspended. Anthony Griffin was punted by Brisbane and Penrith.
Why not take a chance on a talented, hard-nosed Pom?
The last time an Australian club did that was the Newcastle Knights with Malcolm Reilly. That ended with the Knights winning the 1997 grand final, pulling off of the biggest shock results in rugby league history.
Maybe it’s time another Aussie team did.