Chief contenders for Dragons NRL coach job

Melbourne assistant Jason Ryles has been linked with the NRL head coach job at St George Illawarra.
Melbourne assistant Jason Ryles has been linked with the NRL head coach job at St George Illawarra.

THE MEN WHO COULD REPLACE PAUL MCGREGOR AS ST GEORGE ILLAWARRA COACH

DEAN YOUNG

The early front runner given he has been handed the job on an interim basis. Has been part of McGregor's staff since 2014 and is a club favourite after winning a premiership with the Dragons in 2010. His first three games in charge against Brisbane, North Queensland and Gold Coast will give him the chance to impress.

CRAIG FITZGIBBON

Began his playing career at Illawarra and scored the first try of the 1999 grand final for the joint venture. Became a legend at the Sydney Roosters and is an assistant there, but still lives in Wollongong. Is considered the next best coach-in-waiting. Has been loyal to the Tri-Colours, so far, on a deal that doesn't end until after 2021.

JASON RYLES

Another former Dragons forward, who played 188 games for the club between 2000 and 2008. Has since become a highly-respected assistant to Craig Bellamy in Melbourne and has been linked to several jobs since. The Saints would be a good fit for the former prop, however, he is currently committed and keen to join Eddie Jones as the assistant for England's national rugby team.

WAYNE BENNETT

Still signed to South Sydney for next year before he hands the reins to Jason Demetriou but has been linked to the Dragons throughout this year. Coached the Saints to their maiden premiership as a merged entity in 2010 and would no doubt a possible option with fans. However, he has downplayed any links between himself and his former club.

SHANE FLANAGAN

Not eligible to move on from his assistant role at the Dragons to a head coach anywhere until the end of 2021, so would need to overturn the NRL's position on this to get the top job. CEO Ryan Webb made clear on Thursday they would not approach the NRL on Flanagan's behalf. If he can get the approval from the NRL, would be a serious contender. Won a premiership as Cronulla coach in 2016.

ANTHONY GRIFFIN

Hasn't coached since being sacked by Penrith in 2018 and distanced himself from the Dragons two months ago when the pressure was first on McGregor. But it remains to be seen if Griffin will be interested in the position now that it's available. Is one of the leading contenders of coaches who have lost their jobs in recent years.

PAUL GREEN

On the lookout for a job after walking away from the final 18 months of his contract at North Queensland in July. Another premiership winner who will likely be a popular option for any club on the hunt for a coach. Has been linked to Brisbane if Anthony Seibold is shown the door at the end of the season but there is now a job that is guaranteed to be available at the Dragons.

Australian Associated Press