Losing a ball like this is a real pain in the… neck.
It appears Paul McGregor’s days at the Dragons are numbered, with the club rumoured to be compiling a unique severance package that includes a payout and a contract extension.
Speculation over the coach’s job has intensified after St George Illawarra’s disastrous loss to the Warriors, much like it has intensified any other time he has registered a loss, parked his car on a wonky angle or coached St George Illawarra.
Insiders believe that should his services be terminated, the club will table a settlement deal consisting of a payout and an extension, as per club policy.
This will mean McGregor will be asked to pack up his desk and depart the club immediately as soon as he sees out a rudimentary notice period expiring in 2025.
While seemingly counterintuitive to pay a terminated employee extra to stay longer, the deal allows the joint venture to sack the coach while also remaining true to instinct by hastily re-committing after a tiny moment of success, which in this case is the aforementioned sacking.
It is also not the first deal of its kind, with the practice of issuing lump-sum payments and new contracts commonplace in seasonal work agreements and negotiations with the Roosters.
For those unaware, St George Illawarra have a recent history of bizarre contract extensions, with McGregor tied to the club for another two years after breaking even in 2018, and Steve Price in 2013 for nearly leading at halftime.
Multiple re-commitments to the former NSW rep led to some fans questioning if he would ever leave the club, with some convinced he could only be dismissed by edict of the Governor-General, which was now impossible with Peter Doust leaving years ago.
Rumours circled on Tuesday that assistant coach Shane Flanagan could replace McGregor, with the NRL considering softening the former Shark’s two-year ban after concluding his crimes were “only drugs, cheating and Cronulla.”
Further fuelling speculation was the club’s deal to share Kogarah Oval with Flanagan’s former club, with experts supposing this to be a concerted push to recreate his ideal working environment while also generating rumours McGregor had literally lost the dressing room.
However, with Flanagan’s punishments rescinding at lightning pace, he is now unavailable after being canonised and moved to the Vatican.
McGregor will attempt to arrest his team’s slide this weekend with yet another halves combination, with Ben Hunt and Corey Norman now on the scrapheap along with other unsuccessful partnerships attempted under his watch like Gareth Widdop/Hunt, Widdop/Norman, Norman/McGregor and St George/Illawarra.
However, a loss to the lowly Bulldogs will surely mean he no longer enjoys the full support of the bored and that everything wasn’t actually the sole fault of Ben Hornby.
McGregor’s demise would bring down the curtain on a turbulent six-year era of myriad controversy, most notably the standing down of Jack de Belin in 2019. This resulted in the worst season in the joint venture’s history despite the club being granted $300,000 for a replacement player, which it astutely spent on the coach’s payout.
His stint as Dragons boss saw the introduction of many innovative training routines at the club, with his being the only program in the game to combine fluid spine changes with weekly honesty sessions and crisis meetings.
While unconfirmed, McGregor would likely consider his unique termination an “opportunity deprived”, as he should be able to earn an extension fairly with 25 minutes of good footy.