When St George Illawarra won the premiership in 2010 nobody seemed to mind how boring their football was. Who cares? At the end of the day, they were the ones holding the trophy aloft on the first weekend in October.
But when you’re losing, boring footy becomes an eyesore that turns into an infection and then full-blown elephantiasis.
Unfortunately, the Dragons are the Elephant Man of the NRL.
On Monday night they gave up 36 points against the struggling Manly Sea Eagles and didn’t get on the scoreboard themselves until the final minutes. Their attack is pedestrian at best and their much-vaunted 2015 defence is a distant memory. Put simply, they look lost.
The question remains if Paul McGregor is the right man for the job. With this squad, McGregor hardly has a leg to stand on but you have to also remember that this is his squad in many ways. When he took over from Steve Price he made changes so it’s hard for McGregor to argue that this isn’t partly his fault.
A much bigger question is whether McGregor’s abilities are enough to shape an entirely new team if he was given the chance to make sweeping changes.
And that’s the issue at play. This squad needs a major overhaul and it needs to happen soon. Tough decisions aren’t made without hurting someone and I believe the following players need to be shown the door. This list includes long serving veterans who know no other club but the Saints but that’s life and that’s business.
If the English can oust Winston Churchill after leading them through World War II then surely this will be a walk in the park.
Out: Mitch Rein
This guy is the right young hooker for the right team but the Dragons need to change plenty and they need a more creative threat coming out of dummy half. Rein is a solid player with a good defensive skillset but he isn’t going to win the Dally M Medal or a grand final for your side.
In: Kodi Nikorima
Out: Benji Marshall
Benji wants to play sideways but the Saints need to play through the middle. His halves partner Gareth Widdop desperately needs someone that is going to play through instead of around and let Widdop run the ball when he wants it.
In: Corey Norman
Out: Jason Nightingale
The Kiwi veteran has been around forever and is one of the Dragons great modern backs but it’s time to give Nightingale a gentle tap on the shoulder and start discussing a respectable way to see him out.
In: Nathan Ross
Out: Tim Lafai
Is it just me or does Lafai look heavier than previous seasons? When the Dragons go wide to Lafai’s side, there simply isn’t the immediate threat that other centres in the competition pose. Lafai was a good centre at Canterbury but hasn’t brought that over since moving across to St George Illawarra.
In: Curtis Rona
Out: Ben Creagh
The old captain is on his last legs after admitting as much recently. This will be Creagh’s final season in the NRL. With Tyson Frizell and Joel Tariq Sims already in the pack, another middle player with punch would be perfect.
In: Nathan Brown
In: Zak Hardaker
Potential 2017 Dragons Side
1 Josh Dugan
2 Nathan Ross
3 Zak Hardaker
4 Euan Aitken
5 Curtis Rona
6 Gareth Widdop
7 Corey Norman
8 Russell Packer
9 Kodi Nikorima
10 Leeson Ah Mau
11 Tyson Frizell
12 Joel Thompson
13 Tariq Sims
14 Nathan Brown
15 Jack De Belin
16 Mose Masoe
17 Saliva Havili
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Video source: Haider Ali Youtube