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St George Illawarra could appoint their next long-term coach by the end of the week as the club ramps up its pursuit of Jason Ryles.
Ryles is the club’s preferred candidate to replace Anthony Griffin, although fellow former players Dean Young and Ben Hornby are in the mix if terms can’t be agreed with the Roosters assistant.
Ryan Carr, who has stepped up as interim head coach, and assistant Ben Woolf are contracted for next year and are expected to remain at the Red V regardless of who takes over.
The job is Ryles’ to lose, and his management and the club are deep in negotiations about the prospect of a long-term deal. Both parties are keen for it to be a long-term relationship, although the tenure has not been agreed.
Ryles is keen for a contract of up to five years, the length offered to Cameron Ciraldo at Canterbury, which is reflective of the time he believes is required to turn the embattled club into a premiership force.
The Dragons board will need to convene and agree on the candidate and terms before a deal is ratified, a process that could take place after Thursday’s clash with the Dolphins.
Jason Ryles is the front-runner for the Dragons job.Credit: Getty Images
While there doesn’t need to be a unanimous vote from all eight directors, there must be an agreement between the club’s stakeholders, WIN and St George, for the appointment to go ahead.
The Roosters won’t stand in the way of Ryles, who is contracted until the end of 2024, if it means taking a head coaching position. However, the Tricolours will likely seek a compensation fee in exchange for a release.
Carr, having won his first game in charge against the Roosters in dramatic circumstances, wants to become a permanent NRL head coach. However, he brushed off talk about taking over the Dragons full-time.
“That’s not really for me to comment on; the club has asked me to do a job right now,” Carr said on Wednesday.
“I’m going to try to do that to the best of my ability. Whatever happens next year, happens. All I’m worried about is the Dolphins tomorrow night, that’s all I’m focused on. As soon as you look outside of things, there’s no point spending energy on it because it’s a waste of time.”
Carr said he had no qualms installing Jack de Belin as captain in the absence of regular skipper Ben Hunt, who is on State of Origin duty.
The Dragons had considered appointing de Belin skipper for a game two years ago, but opted against the move due to concerns there would be a public backlash.
De Belin was stood down for two years under the NRL’s no-fault rule as he faced sexual assault charges following a night out in December 2018 – the year he made his NSW debut. A jury failed to reach a verdict in his first trial. A jury in a second trial found him not guilty of one charge of sexual assault and could not reach a verdict on five others.
De Belin was in the mix for a return to the interstate arena for Origin I, but the Blues went in a different direction with its forward pack.
“Ben is our captain, it’s obviously just for this week,” Carr said of de Belin. “We have a relatively young squad, as you can see on paper, and he’s our most experienced player.
“You can tell by his form in the past month how hard he is trying for this team and this club. He puts his body on the line and wears his heart on his sleeve. The boys are following him through his performance.
“That was the reason around that decision.”
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