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Dragons boss Peter Doust takes the heat after sacking of Steve Price

Canberra Times logo Canberra Times 26/05/2014 Chris Barrett
Gone: Steve Price. © Andy Zakeli Gone: Steve Price.

The "Oust Doust" slogan was out and about once again on Monday. Not on the hill at Jubilee Oval, nor in the car park outside St George Leagues Club, but as a hashtag on social media.

The sacking of Steve Price triggered a fresh round of questions about the position of Dragons supremo Peter Doust. But if the coach was made to pay for the discontent over the Dragons’ slide from early season leaders to 13th, then the NRL’s longest serving club chief executive is going nowhere.

There is agitation in the Red V fanbase over not only poor on-field performance, but the club’s switching of games away from its suburban home venues, recruitment and retention decisions as well as the failure of the Price experiment.

With Wayne Bennett’s former deputy now out of the frame, the attention switched immediately to Doust, the man in charge of the joint venture since 2000.

‘‘We have renowned passionate fans," Doust said. "We can’t expect the benefits of their support and not have to deal with their frustrations and their disappointments. We all share those as well.

‘‘I don’t know that I’m not human in these circumstances where I don’t accept the criticism. I do. You’ve got to be certain, though, that you are accountable to your board, and you have performance indicators that they measure you on. I’m looking for that sort of support – and the support of my peers.’’

Since the Dragons’ long-awaited premiership of 2010 they have gone backwards, finishing ninth and 14th in the past two seasons. Price infamously had his contract extension announced at half-time of a 34-10 loss to the Roosters on Anzac Day last year but Doust, who delivered Bennett to the club, defended the appointment of the master coach’s successor.

‘‘The due diligence we did about replacing Wayne Bennett was quite exhaustive," Doust said. "We looked nationally and internationally and at the end of that due diligence process ,Wayne Bennett was recommending Steve for the job.

‘‘During the process of Steve taking up those responsibilities, there were certain difficulties he had to deal with, some age in the roster for instance, the replacement of certain key individuals who were a part of that successful era. There were injuries as well. We felt at the end of 2013 in particular when we did extensive due diligence on the team that he coudn’t be held singularly responsible.

‘‘Unfortunately, in recent times and in particular the last measurable period, we’ve been unhappy with the results.’’

Doust also stood by recent recruitments held in concert with Price. The Dragons have acquired a succession of halves – Gareth Widdop, Michael Witt, Sam Williams and most recently Benji Marshall – since the end of last year but in heavy defeats to the Roosters, Bulldogs and Eels in the past month have had a brittle and small forward pack exposed.

‘‘When we’ve looked at recent performances, you can draw certain conclusions about players representing us at the moment,’’ Doust said. ‘‘But there is no substitute for intent. Size is relevant, but so is intent.’’


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