Phil Gould has rubbished claims that St George Illawarra will finish with the dreaded wooden spoon, declaring them as ‘zero chance’ of finishing in 17th spot this year.
After a horror off-season that saw both Francis Molo and Junior Amone charged by police, two players involved in a heated late-night altercation in Mudgee and former chairman Craig Young step down, many are tipping the Dragons for a long year in 2023.
Anthony Griffin is under immense pressure to keep his job as head coach, and with the club struggling to recruit any notable players, the Red V will have to do it with the majority of the same squad that missed the finals last year.
St George Illawarra are among the favourites with bookmakers to finish last this season, but during a recent episode of Six Tackles With Gus, Gould was quick to shut that down.
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“They are a million to one to run last,” he said.
“They will not run last, their roster is far better than that. There is no chance the Dragons are running last, I will give you that…zero, zilch, none. The roster is too good, the talent level is too good.
“Whether they reach their potential – they haven’t reached their potential over the last few years – remains to be seen.
“I know they’ve had some bad headlines and poor trial results, but trial results mean absolutely nothing and the headlines are behind them. They’ve had an extra week to get ready for the start of their competition.
“I will guarantee you the Dragons do not run last in the competition – there are a lot worse teams than the Dragons.”
After receiving a Round 1 bye, the side will now take on the Titans on Sunday night at their spiritual home ground at Kogarah and will go into the clash with a new spine including young guns Jayden Sullivan and Tyrell Sloan.
Gould is tipping the Saints to come out on top and begin their campaign with a crucial two points.
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“I think they’ll be good, I think they’ll be out to prove themselves,” he said.
“When people are criticising and doubting you…you get out there and prove them wrong.
“I’m expecting some sort of performance where they go out there and show people what they are made of – it’s a good time for the Dragons to make a statement.
“What better time and what better place to go out and make a statement about yourself and prove all the doubters wrong.
“I’d like to be preparing the Dragons this week – I think they’ve got everything to play for and I don’t see any reason why they can’t win.”