4 days ago
Senior St George Illawarra players have pleaded with coach Nathan Brown to shelve the axe and give the side which lost to Wests Tigers an opportunity to atone for their abysmal performance.
Brown vowed to make changes following the 24-16 NRL season-opening loss at the Sydney Football Stadium, a display he described as the most disgraceful he had witnessed in his 17 years as a player and coach at the Dragons.
But veteran centre Matt Cooper and utility Ben Hornby both called on Brown to show faith in the players who let him down on Sunday, claiming the entire playing group was desperate to make amends when they take on the Gold Coast at WIN Stadium on Monday night.
"It was just a case of too much dropped ball in the first 20 minutes," Cooper said.
"I don't know if changing blokes after one game (is the answer), we only got beat by eight points, it's not the end of the world, it's only round one."
Asked if he thought the same 17 deserved a second chance, Hornby said: "That probably wouldn't be a bad idea, blokes are obviously taking it pretty hard and they'd get a chance to go out there on Monday and prove we can do the job.
"The team was disappointed, it's never an individual's fault.
"We just never got rolling to be honest, we just dropped too much ball and defended for most of the first half so it made it difficult at the back end of the game as well."
Despite the pleas of his players, Brown is faced with one of the biggest calls of his coaching career when it comes to naming his squad on Tuesday.
The Dragons have a full squad to choose from so injuries cannot be used as an excuse and Brown knows if his side produces another inept display against the Titans on Easter Monday he could be bidding an early farewell to 2008.
The club has already made it clear they are putting together a preliminary list of candidates for the coaching position for next year and beyond and Brown needs to mastermind a dramatic turnaround to save his job.
Cooper denied the scrutiny surrounding Brown's position impacted on how the Dragons played against the Tigers.
"I don't think it's putting pressure on us, I've been here for a long time now and it seems to be the same story every year that we're under pressure," Cooper said.
"I don't think that had anything to do with our loss yesterday and the way we started."