Paul McGregor will coach just one more game for St George Illawarra before walking away from the NRL club. McGregor met with club directors on Wednesday night before agreeing to part ways with the Dragons, with Dean Young to take over in the interim after Friday’s clash with Parramatta.
The former Kangaroos centre accepted the club had not lived up to expectations in recent years, with Dragons management insisting his exit was “amicable”.
“I approached the club’s chief executive Ryan Webb earlier in the week regarding a number of matters and we eventually came to an agreement that this week will be my last as coach of the Dragons,” McGregor said.
“I understand a fresh face and new voice is needed to move the club forward. I hope this decision will provide clarity to the playing group, the entire staff and our passionate Red V members and partners regarding the direction the club is headed.”
McGregor is one of the joint-venture’s favourite sons, having played for the inaugural side in 1999. Friday’s match will see him 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 full-time 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).
Under pressure from the start of the season, McGregor survived the sack just two months ago when the Dragons fell to a horror 0-4 start. The club briefly rebounded, but three recent losses on the trot proved too much.
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.
“We haven’t met performance expectations over the past 18 months, and I take acceptance of responsibility,” McGregor said. “I had the opportunity to build my team, which we did in 2017 and 2018.
“Unfortunately, we have not put that same side on the field since for a number of reasons.”
Meanwhile Young’s appointment in the interim has pushed board changes, with the Dragons insistent his father Craig was not part of any decision.
“It’s important to note that Craig Young excused himself of any decision-making pertinent to Paul’s departure and Dean’s appointment,” CEO Ryan Webb said. “As such, for as long as Dean remains coach, Craig will take a voluntary leave of absence from the board.”