Former St George Dragons second-row and multi-club 400-plus game coach Matt Elliott has revealed he has been left impressed with the start of Shane Flanagan's rebuild at the St George Illawarra Dragons.

Flanagan, who returns to the coaching chair this year after a long stint away following indiscretions at the Cronulla Sharks, has been handed one of the toughest jobs in the competition at a club that has only made finals twice in the last 11 years.

Speaking to Rugby League Outlaws on the show's Super Duper Saturday, Elliott said he had been impressed at how Flanagan has built relationships.

"Luke Lewis has said Flanagan is a really good coach, but he is an outstanding leader," Elliott said.

Watch the full interview from approximately 4:30pm (AEDT) in the Rugby League Outlaws live stream below.

"What I've seen - the way he has really developed relationships right across the whole organisation. I knew Flanno back from 1988 at the Dragons, and I have a pre-conceived idea of him as a coach of being hard nail, do as I say, but that's not the case.

"He has high standards, and doesn't fluff around, but I've been really impressed with how he has developed relationships and even connecting to past players and things like that. I think that has really changed the environment."

Elliott also said he likes that Flanagan is straight talking, and refuses to paint unrealistic expectations.

While the incoming Dragons' coach has expressed his desire for a quick rebuild, he has also been realistic about where the Dragons sit and identified several key problems needing work.

"I think the thing with Flanno - I love the way he isn't a politician. He has said it's going to take us time, we are still aiming for a semi-final spot, but it's going to take us time, and it wouldn't be elite sport if you could do it in a year. It'll happen rarely every now and again where a team goes from the bottom to the top. That's the exception not the rule," Elliott said on Flanagan.

Meanwhile, the former coach, who last held a clipboard with the New Zealand Warriors in 2024 but had previously spent time with the Bradford Bulls, Canberra Raiders and Penrith Panthers, also put to bed the argument that trials don't matter.

"Of course they do," Elliott said on the show.

"But you have to put them in context of how they matter. I'll give you the Dragons' context. Obviously, there are some key new combinations there, and they aren't going to come out in the first trial and nail that.

"My observation as a coach is that you are sitting back, you are looking at some of the key themes you ran through pre-season, and then you're looking at how things evolve."

In a wide-ranging interview, Elliott talked further on the Dragons, the Panthers, and more in a period of over 50 minutes.

Watch the full Super Duper Saturday Rugby League Outlaws show