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The Roar


NRL News: Dragons board to pull trigger on Griffin's tenure then address fans, Bellamy makes call on Storm future

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15th May, 2023
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The news of Craig Bellamy’s decision to remain at the Storm next year is having an immediate ripple effect with St George Illawarra set to axe coach Anthony Griffin at a board meeting on Tuesday.

The coaching merry-go-round is spinning into overdrive with the Storm job now unavailable for another year.

Roosters assistant Jason Ryles – who had been considered a favourite to take over from Bellamy – may now opt to take the coaching role at the Dragons that is highly likely to become available when the board holds its monthly meeting.

The only remaining question is whether he is allowed to see this year out.

The Dragons have given Griffin a chance in the final year of his contract to prove he deserves an extension but they are 2-8 and have lost their past six matches.

Queensland coach and Storm legend Billy Slater will now remain in the post with the Maroons through at least one more Origin series, if he is kept in post following this year’s edition.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 28: Dragons head coach Anthony Griffin looks on during the round 24 NRL match between the Wests Tigers and the St George Illawarra Dragons at CommBank Stadium, on August 28, 2022, in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

Dragons head coach Anthony Griffin. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)


It was thought that Griffin might have been sacked last week, had the team not been in camp on the Gold Coast on a run of two successive fixtures in Queensland. It was also seen as bad form to draw the spotlight away from captain Ben Hunt on the week of his 300th NRL game, which was last weekend’s game in Townsville.

Now, with the Dragons back in regular training in Wollongong, many will see this as the time to pull the trigger on Griffin and the announcement will not come as much of a surprise given the lack of faith the club has had in the coach in recent times.

Ryles’ former Dragons teammates Ben Hornby and Dean Young are also in the running to take over from Griffin next year after also impressing as assistants at Souths and the Cowboys respectively.

The club has, however, distanced themselves from former Wallabies coach Michael Chieka after an approach from his camp.

Ryles now has the option of seeing out his contract as an assistant at the Roosters, before moving to Melbourne in 2025 if Bellamy retires next year as expected.

At the last board meeting in April, the availability of several potential options for 2024 were discussed should Griffin not be offered another contract.


Following this Tuesday’s catch-up by the directors, club bosses will meet with members in Wollongong and via video link as tensions continue to rise within the Red V supporter base.

Around 80 are expected to attend the meeting in person, while up to another 300 are tipped to join online to hear out the club’s hierarchy on the franchise’s current plight.

There has been growing discontent from Dragons fans over the club’s performances under Griffin, amid threats to protest at Friday night’s game against the Sydney Roosters at Kogarah.

It appears only a matter of time until they get their way on the coach.

While Ryles, Hornby and Young are all employed elsewhere for this year, assistant coach Ryan Carr would be the most likely to take up the role in the interim if the Dragons remove Griffin, effective immediately.

Roosters players backed Ryles to be a success as a head coach when asked on Monday, with Luke Keary comparing him to former assistant and now Cronulla mentor Craig Fitzgibbon.

“He reminds me of Fitzy so much,” Keary said of Ryles. “Fitzy was loved around here and you’ve seen what he’s done now he’s left.


“Rylesy is cut from very similar cloth, if he does end up (going), he’ll do a good job.”

Any decision around Griffin’s future will provide the Dragons with the clarity they need to hit the transfer market and attempt to retain several of their own off-contract players.

Bellamy backflips on himself with coaching call

Bellamy will remain as coach at the Melbourne Storm for another year after agreeing to a contract extension after his annual toing and froing about whether to retire.

There had been much speculation on whether the 63-year-old would go round again in 2024, and Bellamy admitted that he had undergone a change of heart after previously deciding that he would hand the reins over to someone else at the conclusion of this season.

“I’ve done a 180-degree turnaround,” he told the Sydney Morning Herald. “Things have got a bit testy over the past few weeks but I finally decided to coach on for another season in Melbourne.

“Eight weeks ago I was gone. Finished. But I’ve been speaking to a lot of blokes about retiring and I came to realise you are a long time retired.


“The relationship with the players is important to me. I enjoy that part of it. The players have been really good to coach this year.”

The decision came as a surprise to the higher-ups at the Storm, who had been told by Bellamy that this year would be his last.

“Last November, while we were in Glasgow visiting Ange Postecoglou at Celtic, Craig told me in confidence 2023 would be his last season,” said Storm CEO Frank Ponissi.

“He was adamant. Whilst I fully respected his decision, I couldn’t understand it because he was coaching as well and as effectively as he ever has while I have been with him. It’s tremendous for the club that he has changed his mind.”

The Storm put out an official statement on Monday morning with Bellamy admitting he was not yet ready to let go of the reins.

Craig Bellamy waves to Melbourne Storm supporters

(Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

“It took me a little while to make a decision to be honest,” he said.


“I spoke to a few people I know who have retired from different jobs and they spoke about the connection they have with people they see at work every day and that sometimes you miss that.

“I still enjoy turning up and mixing with the group and staff. Early in your career, it can be a little bit about yourself but now it’s about our group improving as individuals, and if we improve as individuals we will improve as a team.”

Bellamy told the Storm playing group at a meeting on Monday morning that he would be their coach in 2024.

Club legend Cameron Smith believed the fifth-placed Storm’s solid start to the season would have weighed into Bellamy’s decision.

“He’s contemplated it a few times now, finishing up,” the three-time premiership winner told SEN. “But when you’re still getting results and the team is still performing for you, I guess that’s the reason why you stick around.

“It doesn’t surprise me that he’s going around again, although I will say that I thought he was going to finish up this year. But I’m not overly shocked that he’s recommitted. He’s the type of guy that loves the Melbourne Storm, he loves rugby league and he loves coaching.”


With AAP