Dragons limited by finances for NRL change

Phil Gould says St George Illawarra are hamstrung by finances to make a major coaching change as the pressure mounts on Paul McGregor.

Gould was consulted by the club for a comprehensive review last year after the team’s worst finish to an NRL season.

Despite implementing recommended changes, the Saints are yet to win a game in 2020.

The Dragons employed NRL premiership mentor Shane Flanagan as an assistant to McGregor, who is under intense pressure to keep the top job after their worst start to a season in seven years.

According to Gould, the Saints’ finances will limit their options.

Given McGregor signed a two-year extension in 2019, sacking him would be costly.

“There was never a discussion around Paul McGregor’s position at the club at that time, but an understanding that the result had to improve over time and they wanted to do as much as they could possibly to help him achieve that,” Gould said on the Nine Network.

“One thing they could afford was the appointment of Shane Flanagan as an assistant coach, an experienced coach with a very inexperienced coaching group and strength and conditioning group.

“At the end of the day it’s a result-based business and that’s what they have to contend with.

“I’m sure the club is doing everything they can under the finances they currently have to make things work.”

Axing McGregor could cost the club an estimated $1.5 million, plus the added cost of appointing a new head coach.

It’s been reported the NRL could soften its stance on Flanagan, who is banned from being employed as a head coach until the end of 2021.

It would be the most cost-effective option if the Dragons consider terminating McGregor’s contract early.

McGregor’s position is not the only one to come under fire with the performance of the team’s biggest earners, Ben Hunt and Corey Norman, causing huge concern.

Gould said players earning upwards of $700,000 need to be directly responsible for winning between 60 and 70 per cent of NRL games.

“They’re at the stages of their career where they shouldn’t need a lot of coaching, regardless of who the coach is, the way they’re performing is just not good enough,” he said.

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