Anthony Griffin’s track record of making finals and the desire of the St George Illawarra board to appoint an outsider to the job was behind the appointment of the former Brisbane and Penrith mentor as the Dragons' next coach.
Griffin was announced as the St George Illawarra coach for the next two seasons after Dragons directors agreed unanimously on Monday to offer him the job ahead of Dean Young and David Furner.
He takes over the role from inaugural St George Illawarra captain Paul McGregor, who recently parted ways with the club after seven seasons in charge, and becomes just the second coach with no previous ties to the club after Wayne Bennett.
After the fierce criticism endured by Nathan Brown, Steve Price and McGregor during their coaching tenures, the Dragons board believed an outsider was the best option as their seventh coach, although they are hoping Young will remain involved.
A GM of football is also set to be appointed, while Griffin is keen to be involved with developing St George Illawarra’s renowned junior nursery, which produces much of the club’s playing talent.
He took the Broncos to the finals in 2011, 2012 and 2013 but left after missing the play-offs in 2014, and achieved the feat with the Panthers in 2016 and 2017 before being sacked in 2018 with the team firmly entrenched in the top eight.
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Many of the players in this season’s top-of-the-table Penrith team played under Griffin or came through the club’s pathways while he was in charge.
“He has got runs on the board and he ticked the boxes of discipline, defence and junior development that the club had identified,” Dragons CEO Ryan Webb said.
“This is the first step, there is still other work to be done through the football department now to get the most out of the resources that we have and the new coach.”
Young was understandably disappointed to have missed out on the job but has a good relationship with Griffin after they worked together with the Tonga team that beat Australia and Great Britain last year.
The Dragons believe Young, who remains under contract to the club for next year, is a future NRL head coach.
Officials plan to talk to Young about remaining with the club to work under Griffin and a soon-to-be appointed GM of football.
Griffin, who has previously coached Dragons halves Ben Hunt and Corey Norman in Brisbane, said he believed the club had a good roster and was looking forward to working with the players.
"There is no doubt that St George Illawarra is one of the biggest and proudest clubs in the game and I am excited to commence my role as coach later in the year," Griffin said.
"While results may not have gone in the club's favour in recent years, I see many a positive in the playing squad and the current crop of juniors currently coming through the ranks.
"My goal is a simple one, to ensure the Dragons are a club that every member, partner and fan can be proud of moving forward."