THE circus that is St George Illawarra didn’t disappoint when the Red V powerbrokers finally ended the tumultuous tenure of axed coach Anthony Griffin.
Off the back of losing six games in a row, D-day arrived for the Red V club based in Wollongong on Tuesday morning.
Griffin was seen driving out of the Dragons Wollongong base shortly after 8am where he’d been called to a meeting with chairman Andrew Lancaster.
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At the same time as Griffin was being told the board had made the hard line decision to end his tenure, St George Illawarra players were arriving at training for an 8.30am scheduled media session.
Whoever’s got control of the Red V steering wheel and thought this was a good way of handling the day has clearly got no idea.
Supposedly there were going to be eight Dragons players fronting the cameras for the routine media session – in reality it ended up being Jack de Belin and Ben Murdoch-Masila who were left to be peppered with questions about what was going on with Griffin.
Behind-the-scenes, Dragons captain Ben Hunt was privately rightfully asking what the hell was going on.
There’s no way these types of scenes would unfold at the strong clubs like South Sydney, Penrith, Sydney Roosters, Melbourne or more recently Cronulla.
Where was the CEO Ryan Webb, where was general manager of football Ben Haran, where was chairman Lancaster?
Nowhere to be seen when it comes to fronting up to the hard questions in front of the cameras.
Dragons players and staff were then told there was a snap meeting scheduled for 9.30am where chairman Lancaster came in and informed them of Griffin’s fate.
They were told assistant coach Ryan Carr was stepping in as the interim coach for the time being and asked if anyone had any questions.
No one asked Lancaster a question.
Lancaster then asked interim coach Carr if he wanted to add anything.
Initially he said no before chiming back in and telling the players and staff just because the club has sacked Griffin isn’t going to solve all of their problems.
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De Belin opens up on Griffin sacking | 01:46
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Carr told them everyone needed to get better as players, staff and as a team.
The players then had a scheduled training session at 10am on the field at Wollongong.
Many were still asking why some of Griffin’s other key staff were still remaining at the club.
It’s well-known Griffin and Carr did not always see eye-to-eye on team selections and tactics.
In terms of team selections at the Red V Carr’s first move has been to name captain Hunt at halfback, reinstate Zac Lomax in the centres and Jacob Liddle at hooker and name Jayden Sullivan at no.14 on the bench.
Moses Mbye and Matt Feagi – who replaced Lomax when he was axed a fortnight ago – have been listed in the extended reserves.
This will mean Hunt will start the match at halfback before shifting into dummy-half to get Sullivan into the game against the Roosters on Friday night.
Make no mistake, Dragons captain Hunt will be looking at alternative options after the decision to axe Griffin.
The champion no.7 still is still contracted until the end of 2025 with the Red V but there will be rival clubs eyeing Hunt as a halfback.
The Bulldogs are one club who perfectly fit the bill.
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