A new season brings hope. A chance to believe that this year is our year. Whoever you follow.
But the more things change, the more they stay the same for the Dragons and coach Steve Price.
At Homebush on Friday evening, the Dragons spluttered their way through the first 40 minutes, before there was life for a moment or two when Price finally bit the bullet and threw rookie Josh Drinkwater into the match late in the piece.
Drinkwater did not kick a 40/20 or slice through for a slashing try under the posts. But there was finally a spark, some life in this wilting team.
Price’s mentality and lack of imagination as a coach was on show again on the weekend.
Instead of tossing the proverbial brass ring to Drinkwater and giving him the confidence to lead the Dragons into the future, he opted for veteran halfback turned hooker turned halfback Nathan Fein.
The 2013 season hasn’t even begun and St George Illawarra already look like a team desperate for something new. On Friday night, they tried hard, but trying hard just isn’t enough anymore in the NRL.
Price would rather fold than play his hand. His inability to be creative will be his downfall unless he bets.
To some degree, this is what NRL coaching is these days. If you’re not brave, you’ll lose and be dragged out the backdoor and punted. Never to be seen again.
Price believes there were positives coming out of the 28-10 loss to the Rabbitohs.
“That’s what these opportunities are there for, to improve what you need to get right for round one,” Price said at Friday night’s press conference.
“We had opportunities there to get back there to 16-all with our attacking sets but we muffed that up with our execution.
“I was very pleased with the way the guys pulled back from 16-nil to 16-10.”
Price adopted Wayne Bennett’s ageing squad last year. Only now are we seeing the remnants of youth that can take this club forward.
So what to do for coach Price?
Does he stick with the status quo and die a slow death? Or does he play Drinkwater and roll the dice?
This may not work either and it would be the end of the line anyway. But at least he can say he tried. Even scarier is the fact that the move might just work.
Des Hasler did it with Trent Hodkinson and Daly Cherry-Evans. Michael Maguire with Adam Reynolds and John Cartwright is willing to spin the rookie wheel at the Gold Coast Titans.
Price’s immediate future will depend on the decisions he makes in the next two weeks. But his long term future could be saved by a kid from Manly who is yet to play an NRL game.
Who would want to be a coach?
Published on theroar.com.au