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Laurie Daley not interested in taking the top job at St George Illawarra

Canberra Times logo Canberra Times 26/05/2014 Michael Carayannis
Laurie Daley talks to Josh Reynolds and Trent Hodkinson on Saturday. © Getty Images Laurie Daley talks to Josh Reynolds and Trent Hodkinson on Saturday.

Laurie Daley has all but ruled himself out of the vacant St George Illawarra coaching job following Steve Price’s demise.

Fairfax Media revealed last week that Daley was on top of the Dragons’ coaching wish list, alongside Wayne Bennett and Neil Henry. However, Daley, who is locked into coach NSW until at least 2015, has expressed little desire to become a full-time NRL coach.

While the Dragons are yet to formally approach Daley, the NSW coach said he wouldn’t speak with any potential suitor until the end of the Origin series.

“My focus has just been on here,” Daley said. “Mary's (McGregor) got that job and he'll do a fine job. For me, my focus is on right here, right now.”

Asked if he would consider a head coaching role in the future. Daley replied: “No, for me, I'm just focused on this.''

The Dragons will essentially throw open the head coaching position with Daley, Bennett and Henry likely to be approached. The Dragons will again explore the prospect of luring Craig Bellamy away from Melbourne.

Former premiership winner Bennett left St George Illawarra on good terms at the end of 2011, and remains in regular contact with the club’s powerbrokers and key players while interim coach McGregor will have a chance to impress when he takes charge in his first match against South Sydney on Monday night. Former coach Nathan Brown may also put his hand up for the position, after enjoying success in the English Super League.

McGregor left the Blues camp on Sunday night and will address his players for the first time at training on Tuesday. He’ll re-join the NSW team on Wednesday before the opening Origin game.

Daley said he spoke with McGregor, who had been “torn” on accepting the head coaching position given his closeness to Price.

“He's a very good coach, he will do a great job at the Dragons,” Daley said. "He's a very knowledgeable man, he's got a good work ethic and he's obviously been part of our team for last year's series and this year's series.

"He's got a big future. I know that he was torn because he was good mates with Pricey and he felt for Pricey. But it's a club that he loves and it’s a club that he wants to see do well.”

NSW Origin forward Trent Merrin expressed surprise at the decision in Brisbane on Monday morning.

“I'm surprised about it all,'' he said of Price's sacking. ''It's a shame that it has happened to him. I have been under him since [the] 20s. I've had a lot to do with Pricey.

"He is a mate as well as a coach. I think we have to move on and we have a job to do for the Dragons." 

Price, who played nine top grade games for St George in 1997, had been signed until the end of this season, with the club having an option on his services for next year. He leaves after losing six of the past seven games.

Price thanked the Dragons for the opportunities the club provided him during his 13-year association with the club as a coach.

“I am grateful for the opportunities that the Dragons have provided me over all my years associated with the club and would like to thank all involved,” Price said. “I’d like to wish Paul and the playing group all the very best”.

McGregor said it was a difficult time to take over at the Dragons.

“The board wanted the change to be as simple as possible for the players and for their sake I agreed,” the former NSW Origin and Australian centre said. “This is a difficult situation for me, Steve Price is a good friend of mine and we have worked closely together and I would have liked us to work through these tough times as one."

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