Parting of the ways: St George Illawarra assistant Steve Folkes and head coach Steve Price. Photo: Kirk GilmourFormer premiership-winning coach Steve Folkes is set to be the first casualty of St George Illawarra’s poor season as the Dragons look to revamp their coaching structure next year.
Fairfax Media understands Folkes, an assistant coach to Steve Price, has been told his contract won’t be renewed at the end of this season. Folkes joined the Dragons on a two-year deal last year to add some experience to the coaching ranks. But with the Dragons sitting just two points away from last place, the club hierarchy thinks changes are needed, with Folkes likely to exit at season’s end. St George Illawarra have won just two of their past nine games and are on the verge of missing finals in consecutive years for the first time in the joint-venture club’s history.
Folkes’ demotion comes after the Dragons re-signed Price for an extra season earlier this year. Folkes has had a decorated coaching career. He spent 11-seasons in charge of Canterbury, including the 2004 premiership win. He left at the end of 2008 before taking up a stint as the fitness coordinator for the West Indies cricket team. Folkes also spent time at the Wests Tigers before joining Price and fellow assistant Joey Grima at the Dragons.
The changes will force a reshuffle within the Dragons coaching ranks. It is understood under-20s coach Justin Holbrook will follow Price’s lead and make the jump from the Holden Cup to first grade assistant after coaching the youth side for the past two years. Holbrook, who played 17 top grade games for Newcastle, Penrith and Sydney Roosters between 1999-2002, also coached Canterbury’s NSW Cup team to successive premierships before joining the Dragons last year. Former St George Illawarra captain Paul McGregor is also expected to rejoin the club’s full-time ranks again as another assistant to Price. McGregor has spent the past two seasons in charge of the Dragons NSW Cup side, Illawarra Cutters, having been part of Nathan Brown’s coaching set-up before Wayne Bennett’s arrival at the Dragons in 2009.
Their vacancies are expected to be filled by recent retirees Ben Hornby and Dean Young. Hornby is likely to take control of the under 20s from next season while Young will replace McGregor. After retiring last year, the duo coached St George and Illawarra’s respective SG Ball under-18 sides this year before Hornby moved on to the under-20 team’s set-up and Young the NSW Cup, when their short seasons ended in April.
A loss to the high flying Sydney Roosters on Saturday could result in the Dragons slumping to last on the premiership ladder.
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.