James Graham and the Dragons are struggling. Picture: Joel Carrett/AAP
James Graham and the Dragons are struggling. Picture: Joel Carrett/AAP

Monday Buzz: Coach only part of dismal Dragons’ problems

It's easy to sit back and blame coach Paul McGregor for the debacle that is St George Illawarra and sign the online petition calling for his sacking that ­appeared on social media yesterday.

Their performance against the Warriors was so uninspiring and so lacklustre.

The front page of the Sunday Tele sports section screamed NO POINTS, NO IDEA.

How about we throw in no soul and no spirit.

This appears to be an issue around ­culture as much as coaching.

They tried bringing in Phil Gould last year to conduct his review but it's gone from bad to worse.

To not score a single point against one of the more average sides in the competition is embarrassing.

So where do we start? McGregor is the easy target and has to accept responsibility.

Yet the Dragons have this bizarre ­recruitment system in which the coach is rarely involved.

 

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Dragons fans say Paul McGregor’s time as coach is up.
Dragons fans say Paul McGregor’s time as coach is up.

 

The opinion of head of recruitment Ian Millward overrides that of the coach.

If McGregor wants to sign a player he believes is worth $500,000 but Millward disagrees, there's no deal.

You look at this St George Illawarra roster. They are spending $2 million on halves Ben Hunt and Corey Norman, who can't gel. Even individually they are­ ­playing poorly.

Is this McGregor's fault or Millward's?

You look at their middle forwards. The Jack de Belin issue is obviously ­hurting them.

Poor old James Graham is almost 35. He's played 406 games in the toughest and most demanding position on a ­football field.

Yet against the Warriors he played only 30 minutes for 44m.

Much credit - and deservedly so - went to the Warriors for their exceptional completion rate.

I have never seen a football side ­complete 45 of 47 sets.

Yet this says as much about St George Illawarra.

There was no punch in their defence - no passion and no enthusiasm to thump their opponents.

It was like a Saturday picnic for the Kiwi boys as they kept marching up field.

This all comes back to attitude and ­desire.

Yes, it is McGregor's job to have the team up and raring to go each week.

However, there is a personal responsibility here as well.

The players have to lift as much as the coach.

 

Ben Hunt and his Dragons teammates need to lift. Picture: Mark Kolbe/Getty Images
Ben Hunt and his Dragons teammates need to lift. Picture: Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

 

Their salaries are being partly paid this year by an army of red and white fans who have pledged their membership fees, ­despite being unable to go to the football.

They deserve a football team that is at least prepared to have a dig.

Where they go from here is the big question for fans who want some hope for the future.

There's talk they can't afford to pay out McGregor but if you Google the personal wealth of their owner, Bruce Gordon, it comes up at $800 million.

We also know Wayne Bennett is not wanted at the Rabbitohs from the end of next year.

His recent track record is terrible … sacked from Great Britain and the Broncos after leaving the Newcastle Knights in a diabolical state.

He might not be the answer.

More important than anything else right now is finding 17 players prepared to wear the Red V jersey with some pride. On Saturday, they didn't.

Originally published as Monday Buzz: Coach only part of dismal Dragons' problems



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