Blake Lawrie of the Dragons (centre) and teammates look on after conceding a try during the Round 4 NRL match between the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs and the St George Illawarra Dragons at Bankwest Stadium in Sydney, Monday, June 8, 2020. (AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts) NO ARCHIVING, EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Blake Lawrie of the Dragons (centre) and teammates look on after conceding a try during the Round 4 NRL match between the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs and the St George Illawarra Dragons at Bankwest Stadium in Sydney, Monday, June 8, 2020. (AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts) NO ARCHIVING, EDITORIAL USE ONLY

‘Tough times’: McGregor won’t walk away

St George Illawarra coach Paul McGregor admits he could be facing the sack this week - but is refusing to quit.

"I'm not afraid … but I'm understanding if the decision is made," McGregor told NRL 360.

He will need to say a few Hail Marys to save his job.

McGregor - who has won just one finals game in six and a half years as coach - will be under excruciating pressure to avoid being dumped after St George Illawarra crashed to a fourth successive defeat on Monday.

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In a battle of the cellar-dwellers at Bankwest Stadium, Canterbury recorded the club's first win this season with a 22-2 victory. It leaves hapless Saints dead last on the NRL competition table and the only NRL club without a victory this season.

The Dragons have not scored a try in the last 81 days and it's the first time since 2007 the club is running last.

McGregor is facing another week of speculation and uncertainty. Losing by 20 points to fellow strugglers Canterbury will only further anger fans.

The Dragons look a team out of ideas, out of energy and out of luck - and it is only round four. The Dragons made one line break all match and committed 14 errors, nine more than Canterbury.

Foran made his return from injury. AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts.
Foran made his return from injury. AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts.

Former NSW star Braith Anasta attacked St George Illawarra on Fox Sports, saying: "They've got no DNA. They've lost their soul. It's just been a shocking few weeks and it is not looking good."

There are no official moves yet from the club to dump McGregor but the board will be under intense pressure to terminate his contract from disgruntled supporters and members.

They have the money to sack McGregor - but do they have the desire? The board meets on June 16.

"I'm not scared - if that is the word you are looking for - I'm an optimist but I'm also a realist. These are tough times. I understand the last two weeks haven't been good enough," McGregor said.

"I'm under pressure, understandably. I know our team isn't playing well enough and I'm the coach. I've got confidence and belief in my team but at the moment they've lost a fair bit of that themselves, I think.

"So, look, I accept the blame. I'm not afraid but I will be understanding if the decision (to terminate his contract) is made. If they make the decision, I will understand it.

"I'll be disappointed, obviously, but, again, I understand the situation and the conversation around it every day, which doesn't help your team, it doesn't help the players, it doesn't help the club, it doesn't help the fans or sponsors.

"If that decision is made, I will wear it. I've got to do the best in the conditions that exist at the moment and that's all I care about. My focus has always got to be on my team and my club until the decision is made, if they make one."

 

 

Paul Vaugha sums up the mood at the Dragons. Photo: AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts
Paul Vaugha sums up the mood at the Dragons. Photo: AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts

 

 

McGregor fiercely denied suggestions he should quit.

"Not a chance," McGregor told NRL 360. "I'm not a quitter. You don't quit on people you believe in and have confidence in and you've got enthusiasm for your job. No chance," McGregor said.

"I've got a passion for rugby league and know I can get it done."

St George Illawarra have won just two of their past 14 games - both against Gold Coast.

"I don't think I can offer anything," conceded Dragons veteran James Graham.

The Dragons could be facing their first wooden spoon in 82 years. While the joint venture is a different entity, the Dragons last secured the spoon back in 1938.

Saints players at times looked frustrated with each other.

"You can see a little bit of that," McGregor said. "Because they expect more from each other.

"Any conversation that has been around for a week would have some effect on the players but you'd have to ask them that. For myself, it's there but I don't look at it too much or read into it too much."

 

 

It was at least good news for Canterbury. Photo: AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts
It was at least good news for Canterbury. Photo: AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts

 

 

Victory has eased question marks hanging over the immediate future of Bulldogs coach Dean Pay.

The Dragons have now lost seven straight games in NSW for the first time in the club's history. They play Cronulla next week and then Gold Coast.

"I certainly have the backing of the players and staff," McGregor said. "No one from the club has come forward and said anything to me.

Asked if was he still the man to turn around his club's fortunes, McGregor said: "Absolutely."

Dragons halfback Adam Clune made little impact but had few opportunities in solid field position.

"It's a tough gig. He is 25 years of age, he makes his debut. He comes

into a side that is awfully out of form, not even close to the mark.

And he's meant to come in and make an immediate impact," Anasta said.

"It was really always going to be an uphill battle for Adam. I feel sorry for him and this isn't his fault. There is a bigger problem at the club."

CANTERBURY 22 (A Elliott N Meaney R Smith tries N Meaney 5 goals) bt ST GEORGE ILLAWARRA 2 (Z Lomax goal) at Bankwest Stadium. Referee: Henry Perenara.

Originally published as 'Tough times': McGregor won't walk away



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