Selection panel prompted McGregor's exit

Paul McGregor has been shown the door at St George Illawarra but will coach against Parramatta.
Paul McGregor has been shown the door at St George Illawarra but will coach against Parramatta.

Paul McGregor became increasingly frustrated with the club's controversial selection panel policy before eventually deciding to part ways with the NRL club.

McGregor confirmed on Thursday that Friday's clash with Parramatta would be his last in charge of the Dragons, with Dean Young to take over in the interim.

Already under pressure from a 0-4 start to the season that placed under threat, McGregor had the power to autonomously select the team taken away from him in June.

Instead, it was replaced with a three-man panel of McGregor and his assistants Young and Shane Flanagan.

"I wasn't comfortable with it," McGregor said.

"The conversation with the selection panel is outstanding. It's powerful.

"But I think the coach should get the final say on who is getting selected in the team.

"It's hard when you're owning your result but not getting the team you want.

"(CEO) Ryan (Webb) took that to the board and it came back it wasn't going to change."

The Dragons' team has changed multiple times this year, including the rotation of their halves, with Corey Norman recalled this week.

McGregor's other concern was recruitment.

The former Kangaroos centre hasn't been in charge of it since the start of 2017, with that responsibility now falling to Ian Millward.

"We had lost players and hadn't signed them. I wanted to know where I was going with recruitment and retention going forward," McGregor said.

"But when you get to the stage where you can't pick a player in the position you feel right for him to play - that's what brought it to a head."

Webb said whether the next coach has a selection panel and little control over recruitment would be on a case-by-case basis.

Friday's match will see McGregor equal Nathan Brown as the most capped Dragons coach, but he will now remain stranded alongside him on 151 games.

The club will begin its search for a fulltime replacement from next year, with McGregor's exit coming with 15 months still to run on his contract.

McGregor becomes the fourth coach to depart this year, behind Stephen Kearney (Warriors), Paul Green (North Queensland) and Dean Pay (Canterbury).

At the helm since 2014, McGregor took the club to two finals series in 2015 and 2018.

He appeared to have the club headed in the right direction but Jack de Belin's sexual assault charge and Gareth Widdop's exit hurt the Dragons.

They have since struggled to replace De Belin, who has been stood down while awaiting trial, with Corey Norman not proving to be the answer in the halves.

McGregor's exit will provide some relief.

He has been unable to see his sick father since entering the bubble, and plans on spending this weekend away with him.

"It's certainly it's been tough," McGregor said.

"He's been in hospital for quite some time. So I need to go and see him."

McGregor insisted he hadn't stopped coaching yet, and still had a future in the sport.

And asked how he had handled the news, McGregor was typically blunt in his response.

"I'm good," he said.

"I will go to Bunnings, build a bridge and get over myself. I am fine."

PAUL MCGREGOR'S COACHING RECORD

Matches: 150

Wins: 69

Losses: 81

Finals: 2 (2015, 2018)

Australian Associated Press