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The Roar


There is only one man who should take over from Paul McGregor

Joel W new author
Roar Rookie
8th June, 2020
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Joel W new author
Roar Rookie
8th June, 2020
1189 Reads

Through the lead up to Round 5’s game against fellow league cellar-dwellers, the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs, there was a question mark surrounding the future of their coach and club legend, Paul ‘Mary’ McGregor.

Fast forward to the evening following the game, and Mary’s tenure at the club is subject to even more speculation following a 22-2 loss at Bankwest Stadium.

Despite Mary admirably stating that he will “wear it” if the embattled club were to part ways, his tenure is likely over.

What went wrong for the Dragons, one of the most successful clubs in the league?

Was it when they decided to spend $1 million per-season on Ben Hunt? Was it when they hired Ian Millward?

Was it their ‘jobs for the boys’ approach to hiring staff the beginning of their undoing? Was it when Russell Packer, Joel Thompson and Josh Dugan all exited the club in a short time frame for lucrative contracts at rival clubs?

Whatever the case is, the Dragons have gone from a 48-18 win over the Broncos in the 2018 elimination final to rock bottom in 2020.

If McGregor is indeed sacked, there are many names that will inevitably be linked to the club such as Geoff Toovey, Jason Ryles or Craig Fitzgibbon.


The controversial Shane Flanagan, an assistant coach to McGregor, is currently serving his ban which bars him from the role at any club until 2022.

Any speculation he might be given a reprieve was shot down by Peter V’landys who believes that the man who coached Cronulla to their first premiership must serve his suspension through its entirety.

With Flanagan’s chances at longer-odds, it leaves many questions in the air as to who will guide the Dragons forward.

What must be considered first, is the state that the club is in.

They have two playmakers who are paid around $1 million per year but are underperforming. They are players who looked as if they hadn’t met each other before their game against the Bulldogs.

They have a promising young winger requesting a release from the club, an Origin representative leaving for Newcastle and it has been 81 days (although it is worth noting that the game took a hiatus as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic for over two months) since the Dragons scored a try.

Paul McGregor holds a post match interview

Paul McGregor. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

It is clear that the Dragons system needs a reboot. When a club finds itself in this position they need an experienced coach who has been in this position before.

A new coach must be several things. They must be someone who can demonstrate a firm level of authority and a man manager.

The new coach must be someone who isn’t scared to tell anyone how it is, put players on notice and give them a sense of direction and confidence.

However, they must be able to strike the perfect balance and help players believe in themselves, bring players together and be someone players can warm up to.

That man exists. His name is Nathan Brown, an assistant coach at the New Zealand Warriors following his highly-publicised sacking at the Newcastle Knights last season.

While it may be ironic as this would possibly see the Dragons retaining the “jobs for the boys’ method, Nathan Brown fits the bill.

With Dragons DNA flowing through his veins – having coached them from 2003-08 at the age of just 28 with a 53.0 per cent winning record – he is the man for the job.


He has a 59.6 per cent winning record, a Challenge Cup final and a 2013 grand final victory in the English Super League in charge of Huddersfield and St Helens, respectively. However, what makes him most suitable for the Dragons role is the way he has transformed the Newcastle Knights.

During Nathan Brown’s first season in the Steel City in 2016, the club had won one game, lost 14 in a row (a club record) and had a points difference of 495, with another wooden spoon in 2017, they finished 11th in the 2018 and 2019 seasons. Not a great record, but he laid the squad foundations for a side that is unbeaten after five games in 2020 under new coach Adam O’Brien.

Beginning his journey in Newcastle with his back against the wall, he was armed with a vision impressive enough to lure one of the brightest young talents in the game, Kalyn Ponga, accompanied by premiership-winning halfback, Mitchell Pearce.

Being in charge of a Dragons side that went on to win a premiership two seasons following his exit, it can be interpreted that Brown is a builder and creator who can put systems in place to facilitate success.

Brown can unite people, which is what the embattled Dragons need going forward.