They say he’s safe, but after what appears to be another bottom eight finish for the Dragons, the drums are beating louder and louder for the sacking of Paul McGregor.
And despite a lack of quality coaches on the market, there’s one former Manly stalwart that can instil some pride into the Red V jersey.
This season marks the sixth year that ‘Mary’ McGregor has taken the reigns for St George Illawarra, but regardless of the abundance of Origin and international players on their roster, has only secured a finals spot twice.
But even with the club’s losing form over the last two months, the kicker came before their game against Penrith, when McGregor announced he’d be resting his highest-paid player in Ben Hunt for the match.
With both team’s teetering on the edge of the top eight, it was simply a must-win game. The Dragons lost 40-18.
What makes the decision even more peculiar is the fact that in less than three weeks, St George Illawarra play the lowly ranked Gold Coast Titans at home.
Plus the fact that they’ll have a fit Gareth Widdop on hand at that point, meaning you could easily rest Hunt for a week and have an international slot into the halves, instead of 30-year-old, three-game rookie Darren Nichols.
But if McGregor were to get the sack for his subpar performances, who could they possibly snag?
Enter Geoff Toovey.
The man knows how to win, and more than anything, that’s what the Red V need right now. Wins.
‘Tooves’ managed a winning record of 58% in his four-year coaching stint in the NRL, a lot better than the 48% of Paul McGregor.
Taking over in 2012, Toovey led the Sea Eagles to three consecutive top-four finishes, including a Grand Final berth in 2013. However, he was sacked by the club after finishing one win short of the top eight in 2015, one of the more shocking coach sackings in recent years.
While he spent a year in England coaching Bradford, Toovey hasn’t be sighted as an NRL head coach since his Manly sacking four years ago. The time is perfect for him to return.
With the court case of Jack de Belin and the departure of Gareth Widdop, the expectations on Toovey wouldn’t be intense.
Yet he’d be taking over a roster featuring Origin stars Corey Norman, Ben Hunt, Paul Vaughan, Tyson Frizell and Tariq Sims, as well the likes of Cameron McInnes, Zac Lomax and James Graham.
The Dragons aren’t a side that needs rebuilding, and Toovey could propel them deep into the top eight.
McGregor has been questioned for years by the Dragons’ fans, some of the most passionate in the competition, and he certainly can’t last until his contract expires in 2021.
We’ve seen glimpses of the side's best this year, but Mary has failed to really get the most out of his side. They were known as the ‘May premiers’ for the last few years, starting the season outstanding before a drop in form has seen them either miss the finals or just scrape in.
The year that Toovey missed the finals, and was ultimately sacked for, was the season headlined by off-contract stars Kieran Foran and Daly Cherry-Evans, and the drama that pursued that saga.
The fact that no club has hired him since is simply bewildering, but if the St George Illawarra side wants their club playing finals footy, it’s time for that streak to end.
Geoff Toovey is your man.