TOWNSVILLE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 16: Corey Norman and Ben Hunt of the Dragons stand in goal waiting for a conversion attempt during the round 1 NRL match between the North Queensland Cowboys and the St George Illawarra Dragons at 1300SMILES Stadium on March 16, 2019 in Townsville, Australia. (Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)

Incoming Dragons coach Anthony Griffin must break up his $2 million halves pairing if his new team wants to be successful, according to Fox Sports analyst Michael Ennis.

On Sunday, the Dragons’ dismal run continued with a 42-18 loss to Newcastle. Their performance drew criticism from all corners, including their interim coach, Dean Young, who said his team “wouldn’t have beaten Dapto”.

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Following the loss, the Dragons’ big-money playmakers, Corey Norman and Ben Hunt, again came under heavy fire. The pair together take up $2 million of the salary cap, with Hunt on $1.2 million and Norman on roughly $800,000.

Ennis blasted the Dragons’ efforts across the board but especially the performance of Norman and Hunt.

“There’s going to have to be some hard conversations from incoming coach Anthony Griffin,” Ennis told Big League Wrap.

“What (Dean Young) mentioned there that was alarming was not only did they play Under 8s style of footy and couldn’t have beaten Dapto… but the names he mentioned were young (Cody) Ramsey, (Max) Feagai, (Zac) Lomax, all the rookies.

Chris Randall waltzed through Paul Vaughan, their marquee front rower, and Kaide Ellis. Straight through the front door.

“The Saifiti brothers, two tries just barged over, straight through the middle.

“The effort from their highest paid players, Ben Hunt and Corey Norman, defensively on edges, they just waltzed through them.

“I do (think Norman has to go), I think it’s come to that point in time. It’s time for a change, time for a roster change.

“Seeing Ben Hunt again over the last fortnight go into the halves, given what I saw from him and how confident I was in him as a No.9, today was his seventh appearance for the season in the halves and they haven’t won a game with him in the halves.

“I know Ben wants to play halfback, but Anthony Griffin is going to have to have some really big conversations.

“I know he’s already come out and said he thinks Ben is a halfback, but what he’s seen over the last fortnight I think there will be some conversations had with him in November, and there has to be a hard conversation with Corey Norman.

“I don’t believe they can get to where they want to get to with that halves pairing.”




  1. The change needs to start with the recruiting. Its been really poor for a very long time. The decision to pick up Norman was bad enough, but to pay him that kind of money when Parramatta and probably nobody else wanted him was pure stupidity. I said it at the time, so very happy to say it now. If they are really paying Hunt $1.2m then thats weak management too. I can almost understand a $1m because I remember well how poorly our halves have done over the last near decade, but $1.2m is pure ridiculousness. We’ve endlessly burnt through juniors and now we are looking to bolster our pack with Asiata and McGuire, two of the smallest front rowers in history. Norman dud, Graham dud, Hunt (well the deal was a dud). FFS get a new recruitment officer.

  2. Agree with Butters. The recruitment is a big issue and I think the coaching under Madge and brining the juniors through.

    Jack Bird who may be injury prone now was in the convo for best centre in the game a couple years ago and his performance for NSW against QLD off the bench being injured still strokes me as amazing.

    Damien Cook was a dragons jr who left for opportunities then came back for a short stint then left again and has flourished.

    You also have Steven Masters, Jackson
    Hastings, Rubben Garrick, Reece Robson, Jai Feild, Addin Fonua-Blake, Luciano Leilua and now Jason Saab. These are just players who have left in the past few seasons.

    However in reference to getting rid of Ben Hunt and Corey Norman, I know it’s a stupid move but apparently the dragons are keen on Josh McQuire. Why not swap McQuire for Hunt. Dragons free up some money and get the man they want and Cowboys get what they desperately need which is a half that can control the game, kick well and help be a leader.

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