The dust has barely settled from Paul McGregor’s resignation as Dragons coach and already attention has turned to who succeeds him.
McGregor will lead St George-Illawarra in one final game on Friday night after a tumultuous seven years in charge of the club. As is always the case, the competition for the vacant position is bound to be intense. Here are nine potential replacements for Mary.
Young will be taking the reins from McGregor for the remainder of the 2020 season. If he wants the head coaching role permanently, his interim appointment will serve as an audition of sorts. A Dragons legend – like his father – Young has not been involved with any other club, and no doubt his loyalty to the Red V will be a factor. He is yet to prove himself as a successful head coach, though.
Trent Robinson’s number two man at the Sydney Roosters, Fitzgibbon is widely considered a head coach-in-waiting. He did play for St George but has spent most of his rugby league life at Bondi, winning premierships as both a player and an assistant. He is a Woolongong local and is expected to be courted by the Dragons.
Clearly keen to make a return to NRL coaching, former Manly boss Toovey’s rejection by the Warriors came as a surprise after he applied to fill the void left by Stephen Kearney. He hasn’t won a premiership as a head coach, but did guide the Sea Eagles to the 2013 grand final.
Currently the interim coach at the Warriors, Payten turned down the role on a permanent basis and has said he would like to return to Australia. The Dragons would do well to consider him, given he’s steadily worked his way through coaching ranks and was part of the premiership-winning team at the Cowboys in 2015. He is also expected to be in contention for the vacant North Queensland gig.
It’s no secret England’s boss has been eyeing off a move to the NRL for some time, and was reportedly one of the three final candidates for the Warriors job. Having won 145 of his 215 games at Wigan and guiding the club to three Super League titles, he holds a deeply impressive record, but a lack of experience in Australia could count against him.
Green, who resigned last month at North Queensland, remains a commodity in the coaching ranks. He guided the Cowboys to their first and only premiership and is the only recent premiership-winner currently available. Probably not too likely to end up at Kogarah, though. He’s already talked about taking a short break from coaching to recharge the batteries and spend time with his family, and as a Queenslander, the potential of coaching the Broncos should Anthony Siebold get the chop would be more attractive.
Current Dragons assistant Flanagan remains prohibited from head coaching until at least 2022, and if reports are to believed the club hasn’t made any approach to the NRL to overturn that sanction. While he would be a controversial pick, he did lead Cronulla to their only premiership in 2016.
Walters is an unlikely option. The head coach of the Maroons, he’s proven himself a successful coach in State of Origin – though that record has been damaged by two successive series losses in 2018 and 2019. He hasn’t coached at club level since a stint with Catalans Dragons, but has worked under Craig Bellamy and Wayne Bennett since. As with Green, he’s far more likely to stay in Queensland – Walters has been heavily linked to both the Cowboys and Broncos.
A return to the club he coached to their last premiership is the rumour that won’t go away, but Bennett has publically and emphatically said he has no intention of leaving the Rabbitohs.