Dragons players know Griffin’s fate rests with them

Scott Bailey |

St George Illawarra players admit Anthony Griffin’s fate is in their hands, but are adamant the club is not as poorly placed as made out to be.

Griffin is the most under-pressure coach in the NRL after missing out on finals for two years and with the Dragons listed as the third-favourites for the wooden spoon.

The club has also endured a rotten pre-season with two players facing charges, while an off-field argument between Mikaele Ravalawa and Francis Molo adds to the question marks after two trial losses.

Griffin comes off contract at the end of the year and both Jason Ryles and Des Hasler have been floated externally as potential replacements, while Dean Young is another name that has been regularly mentioned.

Players know their performances will determine Griffin’s future, but insist results should not solely come back to him ahead of Sunday’s clash with Gold Coast after a round-one bye.

“I want him to be here, but the only way we are are going to do that is if we play good footy,” lock Jack Bird told AAP. 

“He’s not the one out there playing. You can’t blame the coach for things. It’s a mental thing in the playing group, we are the ones out there playing. 

“And if he is teaching us something that we don’t like, you tend to go away from it anyway and then you’re playing your own footy (so it’s on you). 

“I believe in him and trust in him. He got me back to where I am now in my career after the injuries.”

Bird, however, knows the Dragons must be better than what they have been in the pre-season to save Griffin.

The Dragons finished 10th last year but players were quick to point out their 12-12 record would have been enough to run seventh and play finals in 2021.

“We have the right squad and we’ve had a few hiccups along the way. But I don’t see anything interrupting us,” Bird said.

“Our goal is to make top eight, hopefully top four.

“Most people are doubting us and tipping us for wooden spoon, but I think we’re better than some teams out there.”

Jack de Belin admitted recent years had not been good enough for the club, but said he felt for Griffin and believed the team was not far off where it was five years ago when it reached a semi-final.

“Who would want to be a coach?” de Belin, who will miss Sunday’s clash with a calf injury, said.

“They’re not out on the field. At the end of the day it’s us players who are out on the field. Their success is dependant of how we perform. It’s all on the players pretty much.

“We rattled off 12 wins last year, and the year before that if we did it we would’ve come seventh. 

“It’s a fine line between success and failure. We obviously haven’t stepped over the line yet.”