Illawarra Newsroom

Dragons complete review and make key changes


The St George Illawarra Dragons have announced several key structural and personnel changes following the completion of the club's end of season review.

Former Sharks premiership winning assistant coach James Shepherd will join Paul McGregor's coaching staff along with Adrian Jimenez who has left Parramatta to take up the role as strength and conditioning coach.

The Dragons said one role is still to be filled on the coaching staff for next year after club legend Ben Hornby departed the organisation.


All aspects of the Dragons football department were examined throughout the review process that involved Phil Gould.

Dragons CEO Brian Johnston welcomed the conclusion of the extensive review and the consequential changes that have followed.

"Everyone at the Dragons were terribly dissatisfied with the club's 2019 season campaign which resulted in this wide-ranging internal and external review of the club's football department.

"The Dragons have made key structural changes to its coaching, performance and medical staff following the determination of a lack of experience within the wider group.

"It was noted throughout the review that there needed to be a greater focus on club culture and leadership, In acknowledging this, the club have taken steps in this space in order to bring further accountability and discipline to the playing group.

"All of our stakeholders, including our partners, members and supporters can rest assured that the Dragons have not taken this process lightly and look forward to greater success in our upcoming campaign and beyond," Johnston said.

In other changes, Steve Dean has been promoted to lead NRL physiotherapist while former Sharks junior representative physio Davis Theobald will join the club as the rehab physiotherapist.

New South Wales State of Origin head physiotherapist Dan Lawson will also re-join the Dragons on a part-time basis.

The Dragons have engaged Gerard Murphy of Leadership by Design to aid a clearer focus in the culture and leadership space while mind and performance coach Matt Griggs will facilitate lessons on meditation, among other things.

The Dragons have currently signed 24 players in their Top 30 ahead of the 2020 Telstra Premiership season, the minimum quota required by November 1.

The club remains in negotiations with a number of players for the final six spots within the squad.


Dragons coach Paul McGregor has endorsed the findings and outcomes of the football department review and is optimistic of a brighter 2020 season.

"Our performances throughout the 2019 season were not demonstrative of this proud club, given also the successful season we produced 12 months prior.

"There are plenty of positives that have come from the review.

"We accept we didn't play to our potential as a team last season. 

"The review has also provided everyone involved a chance to reflect and learn from the hardships of 2019.

"The amount of change implemented across the football department hasn't occurred for a very long time and will provide a positive new approach to the 2020 season.

"I look forward to overseeing a collective rejuvenation of our on-field structures; this will be indicative of the football department changes as well as further involvement from the playing group," McGregor said.

The Dragons are also in the process of renovating its facilities in Wollongong for the benefit of players and staff.

Images: AAP Image/Joel Carrett, Travis Winks and 9 News Illawarra