Hammer blow for St George as Jason Ryles sensationally refuses to be their new coach despite the job being his for the taking – here’s where he’s headed and who’s in line to lead the Dragons now
- Ryles looked a sure thing to lead club
- Is still leaving his current team, the Roosters
- Decision is a huge setback for the Dragons
St George Illawarra’s race for a new coach has been whittled down to two candidates after Jason Ryles rejected the joint venture’s offer, deciding instead to return to Melbourne as the likely successor to Craig Bellamy.
Ryles had been the favourite to succeed the ousted Anthony Griffin as head coach, with fellow ex-Dragons and current NRL assistant coaches Ben Hornby and Dean Young in tow.
But CEO Ryan Webb confirmed that Ryles had been in contact just after 9am on Wednesday to confirm he would withdraw from the race to coach the club where he played 156 first-grade games.
‘It was just about the timing and it not quite being the right fit,’ Webb said.
Current Roosters assistant coach Jason Ryles (pictured) stunned experts and fans when he snubbed the Dragons on Wednesday morning
The former Red V star was thought to be a shoo-in to replace sacked coach Anthony Griffin (pictured) at the struggling joint-venture club
‘We had a process in place and there were other candidates, and we’ll now go back and proceed with that.’
The Dragons had looked set to unveil Ryles as their coach within a week but will need return to the drawing board following the 44-year-old’s decision to return to the Storm.
Webb remained hopeful the Dragons could appoint a new coach ‘sooner rather than later’ with the view to giving him ample time to work on the club’s roster.
Ryles’ move back to Melbourne, where he was an assistant from 2016 until 2020, rockets him into favouritism to replace Bellamy as Storm coach in 2025.
Bellamy recently confirmed he would coach into 2024 but is poised to transition into a director of coaching role thereafter.
Ryles’ extensive assistant-coaching resume meant he had initially trumped Hornby and Young as the Dragons’ preferred option.
He won two premierships as an assistant to Bellamy at the Storm, worked alongside Eddie Jones in the English rugby union set-up and joined perennial heavyweights the Sydney Roosters in 2022.
The Dragons (pictured during last Thursday’s loss to the Dolphins) are having a horror season and are currently dead last on the ladder
South Sydney assistant Hornby and North Queensland’s Young are now jostling to coach the club where they won the 2010 premiership.
There is hope that having a highly-rated coach on the books imminently can entice players to the Dragons, who have struggled to lure marquee talent amid four consecutive seasons out of the finals.
‘There’s that piece when you’re looking to extend current players,’ Webb said.
‘It’s also getting to this period in the current NRL season where player movement opportunities start to present.
‘You’ve also got to manage your cap, you can’t go bringing in players that a new coach doesn’t think fits his system or his style.
‘It’s one about retaining what you’ve but two about opportunities and you want to be able to take advantage when the right one presents.’
Ryles’ decision means his ex-Red V teammates Dean Young (left) and Ben Hornby (right, pictured with ex-St George coach Wayne Bennett after the club’s 2010 grand final win) are the frontrunners to take over
Webb was hopeful bringing the new coach in would not necessarily mean overhauling the rest of the coaching staff and believed there would still be room for current interim coach Ryan Carr at the club.
‘No matter who you bring in, whether it’s a rookie coach or an experienced coach, you still have to look at it as a whole set of football coaching and support around that,’ he said.
‘I’d suspect whoever comes in will have a few other pieces to come in there and support.
‘(But) we’ve got lots of good people, ‘Carry’ is fantastic and he’s doing a good job right now. I hope we can keep the bodies we have here now and just add to those to bring some more skills and expertise in areas we need.
‘I don’t think anyone here is against getting better.’
Post source: Daily mail