Door opens for Flanagan Dragons takeover
The NRL has opened the door for Shane Flanagan to return in a head coach role as soon as this season, putting further pressure on St George Illawarra coach Paul McGregor's job.
As it stands Flanagan, who is a Dragons assistant coach, isn't eligible for a head coach role until the end of next season.
But rather than put a line through a return before then, The Daily Telegraph can reveal the NRL would consider the merit of an application made by the Dragons, or any other club, to appoint Flanagan as a head coach.
Calls for McGregor to be replaced intensified over the weekend after his side slumped to their third straight loss to start the season, going down 18-nil to an injury-depleted New Zealand Warriors.
In April last year, McGregor was re-signed until the end of 2021 but could end up surviving for the entire duration of the deal despite finishing 15th last year and only managing four wins from the last 21 games.
On top of the pay out, the club would also need to find the extra funds to pay a new coach which could cost up to $800,000 a season.
But the board could potentially be swayed to make a call on McGregor's future if it was in a position to make a cheaper internal hire in his place.
The Dragons' next board meeting is scheduled for June 16, with a match against the struggling Gold Coast to follow.
Initially, Flanagan was deregistered indefinitely in December 2018 for violating the rules of his 2014 ban for his role in Cronulla's supplement scandal.
But the NRL eased the sanction and registered the 2016 premiership-winning coach so he can take up an assistant role at the Dragons late last year.
In November, the Dragons announced a raft of changes to the football department after the club's annual review.
In total eight changes were made including the appointment of Flanagan as an assistant coach, mainly dealing with defence.
The club also appointed leadership and mind consultants after the review found the Dragons needed a greater focus on culture and leadership.
But the changes haven't delivered results on the field.
McGregor told his side in no uncertain terms in the lead-up to round three that underperforming players would be dropped from the top 17.
Saturday's lacklustre performance has raised questions about the side's pricey halves combination of Ben Hunt and Corey Norman and left McGregor no choice but to make good on his threat to dump players from the starting side.
Queensland coach Kevin Walters urged Hunt and Norman to find their running game.
Hunt had just two runs from 65 possessions against the Warriors, while Norman took the line on six times.
"Ben Hunt's biggest asset is his running game, and I have been telling everyone that for years," Walters, who has coached both of the pair in Origin, told Sky Sports Radio yesterday.
"(The six-again rule) is perfect for those two. Corey Norman is a great runner of the ball too.
"The message from me would be clear to both those players - challenge the line."
There are calls to name Hunt on the bench in Monday's round four clash against Canterbury, with the view he is more suited to a utility role.
Moving Hunt onto the bench and Norman to halfback, opens up an opportunity for rising youngster Tristan Sailor to press his claims at five-eighth.
McGregor could also turn to untried halfback Adam Clune, who has impressed during his first full NRL pre-season. Clune was named in the 2019 Canterbury Cup Team of the Year at halfback after enjoying a breakout season.
Originally published as Door opens for Flanno Dragons takeover