I forced myself to watch the woeful second half performance of the Dragons against the Canberra Raiders on Saturday afternoon.
The middle defence of the Dragons was as brittle as a last placed under 10s team. Then watching a dejected Dean Young in the post match news conference offer no answers or solutions – and obviously just going through the motions – the whole thing had me reaching for my bottle of Johnny Blue.
As Dean said himself, the only highlight in the game was the stunning debut of Cody Ramsey who was dynamic with the limited opportunities he had.
Then I realised that in yet another lost season for the Dragons, Ramsey was only the second player to debut all year. So many players have been picked week in and week out regardless of their form. No wonder the team is soft. They have not been challenged. The same names keep getting picked every week.
Surely one of Paul McGregor’s greatest flaws was his reluctance or inability to grade the young talent coming through and therefore hold the more established players to account.
Cody Ramsey along with all the other future stars in the top 30 like the Feagai boys, Jason Saab, Eddie Blacker, Tristan Sailor and Jayden Sullivan have been living in the COVID-19 bubble away from their family and friends for months, turning up to training but never getting picked regardless of how badly the first grade team was going.
Credit to Dean Young for picking Cody Ramsey and setting an example, we have a winnable game against Newcastle next week, Newcastle got pumped by Melbourne this week and we have a very good record away at Newcastle. So I say drop Euan Aitken and Jordan Pereira and pick the Feagai twins!
Drop Corey Norman and pick Sailor or Sullivan. Drop Kaide Ellis and let Blacker rip in! Is there anything more beautiful in rugby league than a wild young prop taking his first hit up trying to make his mark in first grade?
So I come back to my question, what constitutes a rebuild? how many players have to be cut, how many support staff have to be moved on – and how much change is required in attitude and approach from the players before a team can be classified a rebuild?
At this point five first grade players have been moved on: Issac Luke, James Graham, Tyson Frizell, Tim Lafai and Euan Aitken. Jason Saab is strongly connected in the media to Manly for a player swap with Ruben Garrick. Jacob Host, Tristan Sailor and Kaide Ellis are all signed.
The head coach has been sacked and replaced by a radically different professional in Anthony Griffin.
Assistant coaches James Pickworth, plus Cronulla flunkies James Shepherd and Shane Flanagan have all been fired.
I estimate by the beginning on the 2021 season somewhere between 10-12 players from the 2020 squad will be gone.
Dean Young is kicking stones, I don’t think he’ll stay and to be honest a change of scenery will be good for him.
I think we need a more attacking focused assistant anyway similar to Trent Barrett at Penrith this year.
So, does a turnover of a third of the playing group, a new head coach and an entirely new support staff constitute a rebuild? I say it does.