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In Round 3, only 15 teams turned up to play

Is Paul McGregor the right man to lead the Dragons? (Photo by Matt Blyth/Getty Images)
Roar Guru
1st June, 2020
15

As a rugby league fan, it’s very easy to get carried away when the game I enjoy returns to action after such a long break, but Round 3 produced some terrific action.

Sure there were some blowouts, yes some teams looked a tad underdone on the fitness front, but by and large there was great commitment and intensity from all teams, bar one. I sadly refer to the (once) mighty St George Illawarra Dragons.

It doesn’t matter that they lost this game. If they’d been beaten by a better team after giving it absolutely everything, then that’s fair enough, but they were beaten, once again, by a team who cared more, who showed more passion, who played with more desire and who simply wanted to win.

The Warriors wanted to win far more than the 17 blokes wearing the Red V.

The Dragons are no different from any other team in the competition. All have had significant time away from the game, yet every other side went out and tried their best. In some games, that might have only been for 60 minutes, but during that time, there was lots of intensity.

It was clear that guys were super happy to be back playing and keen to get stuck in.

I don’t care about the dropped passes, I don’t care about the missed tackles, not sticking to the game plan or the other errors in a game. As long as my team is playing with passion and desire, these other aspects can be sorted out.

Unfortunately, the Dragons have been missing these key ingredients for the best part of 12 months and judging by the body language and comments from Paul McGregor in his post-match press conference, he recognises that, but isn’t in any position to do anything about it.

The following are a sample of his words straight after the game:
“Attitude is a by-product of belief”
“Passion has to come from within”, “It’s a by-product of success”, “We’ve got to find it”
“The intensity we trained at isn’t transferring to the football field on game day”.
“The passion, excitement and competitiveness needs to be there”

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McGregor is right, passion, etc comes from within each player, but as a coach and a leader the team looks to, he must help bring that out. The problem seems to be that he doesn’t know how to do it.

His comment about the intensity of training versus the game day experience is instructive. Assuming he’s right, it shows the squad has the footy skills and knows what it needs to do for 80 minutes on game day, but is not buying into the system or perhaps, is not buying into Paul McGregor, the coach.

It’s hard to have faith in a bloke who has coached the team from regularly making the finals a few years ago, to losing 20 games in the past 12 months and challenging the Titans for the wooden spoon – again.

A further comment from that conference should send even more alarm bells for Dragons fans. McGregor was asked whether he felt his job was under pressure and he responded in part “I’m three games into a two-year contract”.

That’s an appalling answer. Here’s a guy who has coached a team into a bottom two spot on the ladder, thinking his job’s safe because he has a contract.

I guess that means it doesn’t matter if the Dragons don’t win another game this season. McGregor is safe because of an extension to a contract, that should never have been signed last year.

I’ll leave this article with a final McGregor quote, “I have a team I believe in”. You may well do Paul, but do the team believe in you?