Paul McGregor reportedly has two weeks left to save his job. If his team selections for Round 4 are anything to go by, he might only have the one.
Dragons fans, sick and tired of their side’s inability to perform at the level you’d expect of a squad with a healthy helping of rep footy experience, were none too happy with the squad announced for this weeekend’s clash against the Bulldogs.
Matt Dufty, Korbin Sims and Tyrell Fuimaono are all out of the 17. Dufty is one of the most talented players on the list, but McGregor hasn’t been able to properly harvest his potential. Sims is an honest, hard-working forward who rarely, if ever, lets his side down. Fuimaono has been one of St George Illawarra’s better performers this year.
While that trio has been dumped, Ben Hunt and Corey Norman have both been retained, albeit with positional switches – Hunt from halfback to five-eighth and Norman into fullback (a position he’s complained about playing in in the past).
As Origin playmakers, they are capable of breaking open opposition defences with their individual talent alone. For anyone crying ‘bad coaching’ as an excuse for them, it just doesn’t wash – regardless of McGregor’s direction, those two are out of form and more deserving of being dropped than the three who’ve been told to sit on the sidelines this week.
That McGregor has made such a significant change to his side after only one week back doesn’t just indicate how abysmal and directionless a performance they dished up last week to the Warriors, it suggests he doesn’t know how to get the best out of his team, that he doesn’t know what the best line-up is. That wouldn’t come as much of a surprise given how his spine was rotated around at the beginning of last season.
Even if this weekend’s iteration of the Dragons does dish up a more respectable offering, it’s going to take something special to give Mary some respite. Against the Bulldogs, themselves coming off a lacklustre thrashing (admittedly at the hands of a very good Manly side featuring a rampant Tom Trbojevic), a gutsy one-try win won’t do much to placate the critics.
After all, on paper, this is a side which should at least have finals aspirations, if not top-four ones. Barely scraping past a spoon contender won’t do a lot to dispel the notion the Dragons are more likely to pick up wooden cutlery than silverware this year.
Had the side opted to bring in some younger players in addition to new halfback Adam Clune – Tristan Sailor is the obvious one here – then maybe the selections would be more palatable. A hail mary using the emerging talents who could be the future of this club is at least a good story supporters could get behind.
But shifting out-of-form playmakers into unpreferred positions, the same players who couldn’t create so much as a single point against the Warriors? It looks an awful lot like just shuffling the deck chairs.