St George Illawarra correct in making Anthony Griffin re-apply for his job, says Phil Gould
St George Illawarra’s decision to make coach Anthony Griffin reapply for his job is the right move, according to Phil Gould.
Griffin is in the third and final year of his contract, having won 21 of 50 matches since taking over at the Dragons.
The club finished 11th in 2021 and 10th in 2022, on both occasions four points out of the finals.
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The Dragons haven’t made the top eight since 2018, and most judges expect that drought to continue this year.
The Sydney Morning Herald reported on Tuesday that a board meeting had resolved to interview potential candidates for the job, with the Dragons promising to keep Griffin in the loop.
Speaking on his Wide World of Sports podcast Six Tackles with Gus, Gould pointed out that the timeline meant the club had to act now, or risk the situation blowing up later in the season.
“You’ve got to look at it from the Dragons perspective, he’s off contract at the end of the year,” he said.
“The time will come in the next couple of weeks where they go to every press conference and they’ll be asking the question, are you re-signing for next year?
“The club’s going to get hounded with (questions about) ‘what are you doing about the coach’. They’ll have players off-contract or players they’re trying to sign and the first question they’ll ask is who is going to be the coach?
“They’ve got to be able to provide an answer for that.”
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Gould, himself a two-time premiership-winning coach, said the Dragons may make a call as soon as the next few weeks.
“They’re not going to let it go on until the end of the year,” he said.
“They’ll look at their performances over the last couple of years, they haven’t played finals football for a few years now.
“They may well intend to extend him (Griffin), I don’t know. I think it’s the wise thing to do rather than just sitting there doing nothing, or saying nothing and doing it behind the coach’s back or trying to keep it out of the media.”
After a round one bye, the Dragons thumped Gold Coast in round two, before falling 40-18 to Brisbane in round three.
They play arch-rivals the Sharks on Sunday before facing surprise packets the Dolphins in round five.
It’s why Gould believes the next few weeks will be crucial in deciding Griffin’s future.
“The list of options is fairly narrow, so St George Illawarra want to get proactive,” he explained.
“I don’t necessarily look at it as a negative for the incumbent coach. What they’re saying is we’re going to make a decision in the next month, put your application in.
“They’re not at the moment where they want to extend him without considering other options. You’ll be well informed who you’re up against.
“It’s up to you. He’s the incumbent. He’s the one who can win four of his next five and stake a case. What they haven’t said is, don’t apply. It would have been worse if they said we’re going to appoint a new coach in the next month, no need to apply. They haven’t done that. The only thing worse than that is, ‘Don’t come Monday’.”
Former Dragons Jason Ryles, Ben Hornby and Dean Young are amongst the names being floated as potential successors to Griffin, should the club decide to look elsewhere.
“None of those people that they’ve listed may be even interested,” Gould noted.
“Everyone will get thrown into the mix eventually.
“This is his third year. In that three years, we look at the body of work and say, what has he done for the club, the playing roster and performance, is that enough to justify a new contract going forward?
“They can weigh that up and say what are our options? Let’s look at their credentials and let’s look at whether or not we’ll be better off with one of those fellows. Are they ready to come into this environment as first-time head coaches and do any better than what Griffin’s doing at the moment?”
Gould was pressed on whether or not the club had improved in the time Griffin has been in charge, given he’s won just 42 per cent of games since he took over.
“Well the results wouldn’t suggest (so),” he said.
“I think they’re a fair side. Everyone’s tipping them to run last. They won’t run last. They won their first game comfortably.
“Their game against the Broncos, that was in the balance with not long to go. I know it fell away but that can happen to anyone.
“They may well be happy (with Griffin). Until they say, ‘don’t come Monday’, all is not lost.”
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