Dragons recruitment, Anthony Griffin, Tyrell Sloan, Andrew McCullough, Moses Mbye, Jack Bird, Moses Suli

Phil Rothfield has questioned the Dragons’ recruitment policy of targeting cut-price rejects from other clubs as the pressure mounts on Anthony Griffin after four straight losses.

The Dragons sit third-last with the worst defence in the NRL and Griffin has faced criticism for dropping potential superstars in Tyrell Sloan and Junior Amone.

However, Rothfield pointed the finger at the Dragons’ policy of trying to lure unwanted players from other clubs to drive down the money they had to pay for them.

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“I have got them struggling deluxe,” Rothfield said on NRL 360.

“They have won one of their last 13 games, which is worse than the Wests Tigers and worse than the Canterbury Bulldogs.

“When you look for reasons why I look at their recruitment. They came up with a policy when Hook got there to look for cut-price cheapies.

“Players that weren’t wanted at their current clubs who they could pay half their market value for them and come in.

“You look at these players, McCullough, Woods, Mbye, McGuire, Alvaro, Suli and Bird.

“These players were rejects from their previous clubs for a reason.

“The Dragons, while picking them up at a better price than what they were previously on. It is not a strong roster.”

However, James Hooper believes the decision to drop Sloan and Amone is more of a concern than the state of the club’s roster.


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The Dragons’ recruitment policy is under-fire.Source: Getty Images

“It is a strong roster Buzz,” Hooper said.

“The roster is far better than the football that they are playing. Ben Hunt is an Origin and a Test player.

“I think the bigger issue is Anthony Griffin’s selections. He has cut two of the best emerging young talents in the game in Tyrell Sloan and Junior Amone has been playing off the bench.

“Moses Mbye to your point, he couldn’t make the starting side at the Wests Tigers and now he is playing fullback at St George Illawarra. Hello!”

Braith Anasta agreed with Hooper that Griffin should have kept faith in the youngsters, who give them a better chance to score enough points to win games.

“I still can’t get my head around why he has dropped Sloan and Amone,” Anasta said.

“Talking to Benji Marshall and Cooper Cronk about the game against Souths, what did they lack? They lacked spark. They lacked creativity. They lacked speed.

“Hang on a second. What is Sloan and Amone? You need to score points.”

Paul Kent countered that Griffin made the call to drop Sloan based on his lack of talk in organising the team from the fullback position.

“But they haven’t been defending well,” Kent said.

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Tyrell Sloan was dropped after three rounds.Source: Getty Images

“The reason Sloan was dropped and Griffin won’t say why, but he has eluded to the fact he needs to work on some things in his game and the thing that has really been missing from the Dragons is the talk from the fullback.

“Fullback is such a different game than it used to be, where basically now they are the architects of your defence and they are reading the opposition as they are getting set up.”

However, Anasta pointed out that the Dragons’ defence has actually gone backwards since Sloan was dropped.

“So teach him,” Anasta interjected.

“They averaged 24 points against in the first three rounds. They have averaged 36 the last two games with Mbye at fullback.

“Defence wins premierships and Hook is an experienced coach who thinks we are going to go nowhere in this competition unless our defence gets better.

“But sometimes these are young kids who you can help and manufacture into these players.

“And why did they drop the two of them at once? Amone and Sloan. There is a lot around that decision that is just not clear.”

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Hooper believes Griffin was too hasty in making Sloan and Amone scapegoats for a bad night against the Sharks in atrocious conditions in Round 3.

“Since Sloan was dropped their defence has got worse,” Hooper said.

“I don’t think you can put it all on the young bloke. I get the logic of it.

“But it looked like a knee-jerk reaction to the fact that Cronulla had put a score on them in the rain. I don’t see how in those conditions, two young blokes are the problem.

“It is not like they don’t have experience in that side. It is not a bad roster.”

Rothfield maintains there is a fundamental flaw in recruiting players that are unwanted at other clubs in terms of getting the best performances out of your team.

“Aaron Woods is the world’s nicest bloke and a really solid player, but he is not going to blow a game open,” Rothfield said.

However, Kent believes the Dragons had to adopt this style of recruitment to get their salary cap in better shape.

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“But they got him for less than $200,000,” Kent said of Woods.

“Let me just say this about the Dragons because everyone is looking at what happened there.

“They had Paul Vaughan on a lot of money. Ben Hunt is still there on a lot of money.

“Griffin has had to move players out to try and get the salary cap back in shape.

“This is what everyone forgets about when talent comes in and out. You can fix the culture, but when talent comes in and out everyone overlooks that.

“You look at McCullough and Cameron McInnes and what they were doing. McInnes is at a better place right now in his career, but he was on three times what you got McCullough for.

“If you put a value on McInnes and say this is what we value him at and another club comes in and pays well above that, you have got to maintain the discipline to say no, this is what we think you are worth and this is what we are willing to go to.

“If you keep breaking that discipline and pay an extra $250k there and $150k there and $300k there, what ends up happening is your salary cap gets out of whack.

“Then when a good player like Cameron Munster comes on the market, you are not even in the hunt.”

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