A brutal honesty session has primed St George Illawarra to end their horror NRL run and relieve “unfair” pressure on besieged coach Paul McGregor, captain Cameron McInnes says.
McInnes said the players were all behind McGregor after their embattled mentor earned a reprieve from the Dragons’ board on Tuesday despite stumbling to a 0-4 record – their worst season start since 2005.
And the Dragons’ rake said the players were ready to show their support by muscling up in Sunday’s clash with arch rivals Cronulla after some home truths this week.
McInnes said back-rower Tyson Frizell called the group together away from the coaches after their video review of last round’s disappointing loss to Canterbury.
“We know we weren’t good enough. Following that (Bulldogs loss), we have had some tough conversations as a playing group about what we can to do our part,” he said.
“There has been a lot of noise about the coaching staff but … we are the ones on the field making the unforced mistakes.
“Some of the mistakes that are made are individual recklessness.
“We are putting ourselves under too much pressure with too many errors – as soon as we fix that, the better for everyone.”
McInnes inadvertently gave a glimpse of the respect he had for McGregor after being caught on TV cameras apologising to his coach in the dressing room after their last-round loss.
“I just apologised for the team’s performance on behalf of myself because I know how hard he works,” McInnes said of the incident.
“I believe in my heart that it is not a coaching staff problem. I get that it is an easy excuse … (but) I think he is copping unfair criticism.
“I am glad that the stance the club has taken is a strong one and the right one.”