’Long gone are the days of Barrett, Mundine, Hornby and Head’: Why the Dragons keep making the same mistakes

August 4, 2020 0 By The81stMinute



Death, taxes and the St George Illawarra Dragons’ annual flounder. With pressure building on the team and coach Paul McGregor again – reports surfaced on Tuesday night that the club was inching their way toward dragging former half Gareth Widdop back from England.

An interesting turn of events considering Widdop is only three games into a three-year deal with his new Super League side, Warrington.

Under the deal to let him go in 2019, it was agreed between the Dragons and Widdop that he wouldn’t play for a rival club if he did return to the NRL.

The81stminute.com understands Widdop’s wife is keen to return to Australia.

Dragons fans are already calling him the man to turn their fortunes around.

All this despite Widdop being on the wrong side of 31 with serious question marks over how much more his busted shoulder can take – especially in the week-to-week grind of the toughest rugby league competition on the planet.

St George Illawarra is desperate to get rid of Corey Norman.

It’s a worry for Dragons supporters.

Widdop was the team’s best player for many years but he wasn’t competing with much.

The answer for the Dragons isn’t Widdop.

It’s a bandaid solution.

St George Illawarra have tripped from one recruitment move to the next and they continue to lose out.

Top of the Props podcast: Tony Priddle

In the club’s original glory years between 1999 and 2006, a period which saw them qualify for a grand final and appear in five other finals series, the Dragons were always spearheaded by a local junior.

In ’99 it was Trent Barrett and Anthony Mundine (albeit from St George and Illawarra originally).

Barrett was the mainstay throughout and was ably assisted by the likes of Ben Hornby, Matthew Head and Jason Hooper.

Souths little man Willie Peters had a fair crack for a few seasons there alongside Barrett.

But the responsibility of the team always fell back to one of their own.

Even in 2010 when they won the competition, it was Hornby, halfback and captain.

Top of the Props podcast: Pat Jarvis

They took Benji Marshall in 2014 when it didn’t work out for the Kiwi in Super Rugby.

Then paid massive overs to take Ben Hunt from the Broncos – nobody at Brisbane worried too much.

In 2013 they slung veteran hooker Nathan Fien into the number 7 jersey in all 24 games.

Kurt Mann (Storm), Josh McCrone (Raiders) and Sam Williams (Raiders) have all had cracks too.

Parramatta put Norman out on the street in 2018 with a big ’For Sale’ sign around his neck.

So keen were the Eels they paid Norman $250,000 just to leave.

The Dragons swallowed the deal – hook, line and sinker.

St George Illawarra appears to be a club intent to fly by the seat of their pants.

Long gone are the days of Barrett, Mundine, Hornby and Head.

Little wonder Wests Devils prodigy Tristan Sailor wants out.


1999 – Grand Finalists
Trent Barrett
Anthony Mundine

2001 – Semi-Finalists
Trent Barrett
Jason Hooper
Ben Hornby

2002 – Semi-Finalists
Trent Barrett

2004 – Quarter-Finalists
Trent Barrett
Matthew Head

2005 – Preliminary Finalists
Trent Barrett
Ben Hornby
Matthew Head

2006 – Preliminary Finalists
Trent Barrett
Ben Hornby
Matthew Head


Share this: