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The poisoned chalice: Coaching the Dragons

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Roar Rookie
20th July, 2019
20
1011 Reads

St George Illawarra lose again and by a convincing margin. Nothing new here, next sport story!

Sadly for proud and expectant Dragons fans, this is too common of a storyline.

Success has been as rare as hens teeth at Kogarah and Wollongong since the Wayne Bennett era. For Dragons fans, anything less than being a premiership threat will never be accepted.

St George fans demand success and will no doubt ask the club’s administration why it has accepted such lean returns in the past five or six years. Why has this once great club fallen so far considering the plethora of talent at its disposal?

A small part of the answer is that other NRL clubs have lifted their game and are operating in a far more sophisticated manner than they ever have before. The NRL standard of excellence has never been higher. The level of professionalism on the playing field and on the training field continues to evolve. Any club that does not evolve and adapt to these rising standards will perish.

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Paul McGregor has had a solid career as an NRL coach, though at times through his tenure he has been unlucky. His win-loss record of 49 per cent is certainly not the worst in the NRL.

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The man can coach. He has taken the Dragons to the top of the ladder, but the team found ways to not stay there.

McGregor’s win-loss record would be enough to get a contract extension at most clubs, but not at St George – not as far as their fans are concerned.

Therein lies the problem. The current culture at St George Illawarra and the expectations of their fan-base are poles apart.

Mediocrity will never be accepted by fans of the red V. The Dragons fan-base is the hardest in the NRL to keep happy. Being in charge of the St George Illawarra Dragons is a pressure cooker environment.

A blindfolded bat could see that extending the contract of a coach who has not taken the Dragons to the third or fourth week of a final series with such a talented player roster was a bad move by management. It was also perceived as an endorsement of a culture of mediocrity.

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Dragons fans embrace mediocrity as much as Donald Trump embraces climate change.

If McGregor resigns or is sacked, whoever comes in to replace him will be stepping up to arguably the toughest coaching job in all of Australian sport.

There is one thing for sure. McGregor’s days at the helm at the Dragons are certainly numbered.