Saturday, December 3, 2022

Anthony Griffin, St George Illawarra Dragons coach, addresses offseason

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Anthony Griffin’s passage to the Panthers ended in chaos and the life of a trainer continued to haunt him when he returned from the desert to lead the Dragons before Christmas.

Veteran mentor endured hellish offseason at St George Illawarra, who turned ugly for the first time when playmaker Corey Norman was involved in a street brawl in January. Norman and former NRL star James Segeyaro have since claimed to be innocent.

The drama broke out again when news from the club presented an official submission to the NRL over the signing of controversial code-hopper Israel Folau, despite its history to make homophobic insults on social networks. This was followed by the Dragons’ decision to abandon Folau. but only ending their pursuit with a two-line statement, causing a roasting of the great Mark Geyer of the rugby league.

The blows kept hammering the club when inspirational skipper Cameron McInnes signed with Cronulla for a four-year contract starting in 2022, before the hooker bangs NSW Blues was excluded from the 2021 season with a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament.

And the last controversy concerned the signing of former Brisbane and Newcastle hooker Andrew McCullough, who was interviewed by Geyer and legendary code-hopper Wendell Sailor.

Griffin addressed the avalanche of drama in an interview with WWOS Radio.

“The players are in very good physical and mental condition. They just have a hard time playing like everyone else at this time of year,” Griffin said.

“Our club is doing well. We have done a couple of things over the past few weeks which in the short term may seem unusual, but in the long term we were aiming to improve our club.

“Everything is going very well. Today has been a good day to welcome Andrew to the club.

“We are looking forward to starting our game in a few weeks.

“The big rehearsal will be at Souths in Mudgee next Saturday night, and then we have two weeks to prepare for Cronulla in the first round.”

The Dragons have not played the final of football since 2018, after falling to 15th place in the standings in 2019 and 12th in 2020.

Their quest for redemption was hit hard when McInnes suffered his late-season injury in training last Friday, which Griffin sympathized with.

“It was a terrible day on Friday for Cam,” Griffin said.

“I really feel for him, he’s a lovely kid, he’s done a lot for the club over the years and for him to get down into his senior year like that – it was one of those real tragedies you come across unfortunately in the rugby league. “

The Dragons will kick off their 2021 campaign in a clash with the Sharks at Kogarah Oval on March 14.

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