He must have said a few Hail Marys because Paul McGregor looked doomed.
Instead of showing McGregor the door following St George Illawarra’s worst start to an NRL season in 15 years, the Dragons board handed the embattled coach a shock reprieve on Tuesday.
But, if the past six tumultuous seasons are anything to go by, McGregor’s stay of execution merely means more pain and suffering for disillusioned Dragons fans.
He may be St George Illawarra’s foundation captain, a grand final skipper and Dragons favourite son but sentiment only extends so far when the lowlights exceed the highlights.
Delve into social media and its clear many diehard supporters have lost patience and hoped the Dragons would move McGregor on after calling Tuesday’s emergency board meeting.
McGregor may only have survived because the joint venture couldn’t afford to pay him out the estimated $1 million he’d be owed.
Red V fans have endured the most underwhelming decade in the famous club’s history.
Just two finals appearances for one play-off victory in eight seasons since the Wayne Bennett premiership-winning era.
From 2000-2010, the Dragons only MISSED the finals twice.
But it’s been a slippery slope ever since Bennett departed in 2011, a year after masterminding the club’s breaking of a 31-year title drought.
After succeeding the sacked Steve Price before round 11, 2014, McGregor has coached St George Illawarra to 66 wins and 78 losses from 144 games at a 46 per cent strike rate.
But the cold stats don’t convey the true story of bitter disappointment for diehard Dragons supporters.
The inexplicable late-season fade-outs in 2015, 2017 and 2018 cut deepest.
Dubbed the “May premiers”, the Dragons were top of the pops after thumping Cronulla 42-6 in the Shire derby in round 12, 2015.
But they could only limp into the finals in eighth spot and crashed out with a one-point loss to Canterbury in week one.
From first place after round seven, McGregor’s men left Dragons fans in despair yet again two years later.
Needing only to beat the lowly Bulldogs in the last round to make the finals, the Dragons folded once more to miss the business end of the season.
It was a similar tale in 2018, the Dragons on top of the table after round 16 but only scraping into the finals in seventh place.
A 30-point mauling of the Broncos in Brisbane has probably been the highlight of McGregor’s tenure.
But after exiting the finals in week two with another one-point defeat, this time to South Sydney, it’s been downhill ever since.
Despite boasting a roster heavy with State of Origin and Test stars, the Dragons finished second-last in 2019, ahead of only the hapless Gold Coast.
Worse still, the Dragons are the only winless outfit after four rounds in 2020.
With only two victories over the Titans in their past 14 games and a stubborn refusal, until last week, to blood any number of talented halves ahead of highly-paid but under-performing duo Ben Hunt and Corey Norman, McGregor’s days still appear numbered.