St. George Illawarra Dragons, We Need To Talk

OK. This is something that I’ve been bottling up for some time now, but I personally am getting to the point where I struggle to hold in all of this.

I love my team. I fucking LOVE my team. I pay for a membership every year (nearly) with the package that I can afford. I pay for tickets in advance for games, so I know I won’t forget later down the track. I spend a butt load on petrol, driving to as many games as I can make it to, barring inter-state games. I even make artworks and banners for players, for heaven’s sake!


Seriously. I fucking love my team.

BUT, I’ve gotten to the point where I’m actually starting to get embarrassed with the performance of my team. It kills me to say it, but I am. With a team that has players like:

Josh Dugan
Gareth Widdop
Benji Marshall
Jason Nightingale
Euan Aitken
Russell Packer

We should be putting in a MUCH better effort than what we have been doing this season. But we just aren’t… And it fucking hurts. I consider myself a somewhat empathetic person and seeing my team lose like that to the Cowboys…

Guys. I fucking cried. THAT is how much I love my team. A grown 27 year old man, crying about a loss that was so dreadful that I felt like my heart was broken.

And then seeing Duges cry on TV… It was at that point that I decided that I was going to write this massive post about it. Because as someone who loves the Dragons and has stuck by them during the highs of 2010 and the lows of the last couple of years, I think I’m entitled to it.

Probably putting the job application at the Dragons I have at risk by doing this… But screw it. I probably am never going to get a job working for the team that I love. So screw it, I’m just going to let myself go and be completely honest with how I feel about all this.

And to those who do work at the Dragons, who are reading this now… Sorry, but I can not hold in my frustrations anymore.


Players Who Need To Be Dropped

Yeah. This is a topic that’s going to ruffle some feathers, but I think there are some players in our current squad who need to be given the chop. McGregor has spoken about there being personnel changes in an effort to revitalize our season. Well, Mary, let me try to give you some help in that regards.

The number one player who needs to go, is Benji Marshall.

Look, I’m going to say it. I don’t like him. I really don’t. He comes off as arrogant, rude, and self-centered. Especially considering that he thinks he’s got 2-3 more seasons in the NRL & is worth more than $300K. Mate, after the fucking bullshit performance you put on yesterday, you’d be LUCKY to get $300K. You’re not that flashy kid at the Tigers anymore, Benji. Pull your head in and play for the team, not for Benji Marshall.

Seriously, I don’t know why we wasted money buying him in the first place. We had Jack Bird, we could’ve used him. But nope, we lost Bird probably for good.

Another player who needs to go is Mitch Rein. Look, I like Rein. I do, I really do. He’s an epic guy to chat to at the members functions. But I’m sorry mate, you’ve been lacking for a bit of time now. We need consistency in our players and I’m not seeing it in Rein. The first couple of games for us had Rein looking disinterested and as though he didn’t want to be there.

Which is sad, considering he’s a Kiama boy along with the Morris Twins and has played alongside them, mainly with B-Moz when he was a Dragon. Off-Topic a bit, I fucking love Kiama. Great place to visit, one of my best mates lives there, so naturally I love having players on the team that have come from the 2533.

But unless Rein starts pulling his finger out and steps up, he’s gotta go.

Another player who needs to go is Ben Creagh. Look Ben, I love you as a player. You’ve been a loyal soldier for the Red V and one who’s put in heaps of effort to give it your best. But let’s face it mate… Age is getting the better of you here. I’m actually gutted in having to say this, but I think it’s time for you to put your feet up and relax now, mate. You’ve done well, now enjoy the rest of your life.

Another player is Tim Lafai. Look, I’m not attached with Lafai like I am with some of our longer-term players so I have no quips in saying this. Lafai, you need to pull out your fucking finger and play the way you did at the Dogs. Sorry, but you’re not earning your spot on the team. I think some time in the Cutters is perfect for you to regain some confidence. Seriously mate, this is not why we bought you.


The People Who Need To Be Held Accountable

The Coach

No one can deny that Paul “Mary” McGregor is someone who has a lot of passion for his team. The bloke has literally paid money out of his own pocket for some of the gym equipment that our guys use, which is something he isn’t entitled to do. I’ve met the man a couple of times at functions, as well as, the Coaches’ Forum last year and he’s been nothing short of a gentleman to those he speaks with.

Look, I like Mary. I really do. But I think it’s safe to say that he’s not the most experienced coach out there and for a club that is in the rebuilding phase, it’s not something that we can afford to have right now. I’m sorry Mary, but there have been a number of questionable choices that have been… Well, questionable.

The lack of use from Siliva Havili, the insistence of Josh Dugan in the centres, dropping Euan Aikten, there’s a bit of a list there. And I’m sorry, it’s evident that your “bad-ass” attitude isn’t going to work like it did before. Changes have to be made and it has to start by dropping players who are not working in the team’s best interest. I understand that bridges might be burned and that you risk hurting players’ feelings… But this is a performance-based industry and if you’re not performing, then you shouldn’t be picked.

Sorry Mary but this is getting ridiculous now. We got thrashed by the Sharks, thrashed by the Cowboys, and thrashed by the Broncos. We have a side that has a number of high-quality players and we’re performing as though Steve Price were still coaching the team. Sorry mate, you need to move on if you can’t give us a positive consistency with performance.

Bring in Toovey or Clearly, someone from OUTSIDE of the club and who can give us fresh and innovative new coaching methods. This isn’t working out, we’ve had 3 games where 0 tries have been scored.

The Board and CEO

… God I hate talking about this… For the record, I’m not a fan of how certain people within the #SaveOurSaints movement have been treating other Dragons fans. I know that not everyone who supports that movement are bad, some of them are actually great guys to chat with. But there are 1-2 people within that group that are absolute cock-juggling thundercunts with how they conduct themselves to fans who don’t agree with their ideology. And those are the ones who tainting that slogan.

With that being said… I DO agree that we need a change in how management of the Dragons is being run. We don’t have a healthy supply of 3rd Party deals, unlike other big clubs, which is heavily impacting our ability to recruit and retain players. Seriously, every player who apparently is linked to us, ends up signing with someone else. Why? Because we’re the bargaining chip that everyone calls a bluff with. We’re just here to drive up your price, that’s all.

We need fresh new blood running the club. We need business-savvy people who can come in and give us the supply of 3rd party deals to make us a recruitment power-house. We have 0 appeal for players to come here. We don’t have a winning culture which is what players want to have. We don’t have attractive deals for players to take advantage of and secure a larger pay day.

Because money talks in this game more than anything else.

We need to start investing into things as a business that is going to generate a profit for us. Property in the South Coast would be a MAJOR money-maker, since prices in Sydney are jumping up and people are migrating South to get away from it. Invest in local businesses that thrive on the traffic of people from Home Games, etc.

Point is, we NEED new blood in our management, because this shit is NOT working for us.


What Is Actually The Problem?

Seriously, I’m lost at the moment about what the fuck is going on.

Normally I’d say something along the lines of being a mental block or something… But I’m quite literally lost for words and unable to really pin a reason on why we’re playing like this? I’ve seen the blokes at training a couple of times now, they nail it there. They work their asses off and then when it comes to Game Day… Nothing.

Seriously, I have NO idea why we’re lacking confidence. It could be in-fighting amongst certain players, it could be that Mary doesn’t get along with some of the players, which is causing rifts to form… I got nothing. Literally, nothing.


The Positives

Yes, there ARE going to be some positives to be said. Come on, I got too much love for the Red V to not throw in some positivity.


Josh Dugan.

You, sir, are a fucking champion bloke. This isn’t something that I advertise very often, but I’m friends with Josh’s Mum & his future Father in Law. Having spoken to Jen and Dave a few times now, I can see the great support network that Duges has around him at home and the fantastic influence that’s shaped him into becoming the man that he is today.

This is a man who obviously is living the dream of that little boy who was brainwashed to follow the Dragons by his awesome Mum and Dad, who are in fact die-hard Dragons fans. He is one of the closest things we’re going to get to a player that was BORN to play for the Dragons.

Watching him break down in the sheds after the Broncos game was literally the breaking point for me to actually write this blog post up, believe it or not.

Josh Dugan, hold your head up high mate. You are a God among Men.

Euan Aitken.

This is a kid who in his second year of First Grade, is playing to the level of a seasoned First Grade player. He’s hungry for First Grade and he’s showing it every week. He knows that this is a performance-driven industry and he’s giving it 110% every week.

He’s honestly what most rookie players should be looking up to. Someone who is hungry for it and will do whatever he can to get it. Keep up the good work Hammer.

Leeson Ah Mau.

Mate… This guy just keeps stepping up to the next level every year… Hold up your head, champ. You’re doing very well and you’ll soon be one of the big powerhouse units in the NRL.


Joel Thompson “The Tank Engine”

Bruh…BRUH. BRUH! You’re a fucking legend. On AND off the field, the shit you do honestly makes me proud to have a bloke like you wearing the Red V. You’re a powerhouse on the field and your work with mental health and the Indigenous is something that should inspire all upcoming players to take part in.

I tip my metaphorical hat to you, sir.

And then, there is a name that needs no mention. Jason Nightingale. Enough fucking said. You ARE a Red V Legend, mate. That’s all I need to say.


The Future

… Look, as I’ve addressed above, we have some SERIOUS issues to work out right now. I think the FIRST THING we should be doing is looking for a new coach that ISN’T an ex-club legend or affiliated with the Dragons. The Board need to swallow their pride and allow people with new and fresh concepts to come in and revitalize the way that our lads prepare for the games.

I think that’s a MAJOR step to getting issues fixed on a short-term basis. Long term, we need a new Joint-Venture board and CEO. They’ve been around for too long, we NEED them to step aside and allow new blood to flow through the Dragons.

We need to drop the deadwood players in our team, such as Benji, Lafai, and Rein, and allow our younger players who are hungry for First Grade, the chance to step up and prove that they’re ready.