Phil Gould's bombshell Jason Ryles claim over Dragons coaching saga

The rugby league icon's comments are sure to come as a shock to many.

Pictured left to right, veteran NRL commentator Phil Gould and Jason Ryles.
Veteran NRL commentator Phil Gould seems pretty certain Jason Ryles won't be taking up the head coaching role at the Dragons. Pic: Getty

Veteran NRL commentator Phil Gould has poured cold water on suggestions Roosters assistant coach Jason Ryles is all but assured of joining the Dragons as the club's new head coach. Last week, Ryles appeared to move a step closer to taking over at the Dragons in the wake of Anthony Griffin's sacking, after the Roosters gave him their blessing to pursue head coaching interests.

The Roosters assistant was considered a strong chance to succeed Craig Bellamy at Melbourne, before the veteran Storm coach stunned the league world by confirming he will remain at the helm in 2024. That development opened the door for the Dragons to pounce on the club great, with Tri Colours coach Trent Robinson confirming Ryles had been given their blessing.

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"If an assistant wants to go for a job, they can go for a job, that's really clear and we're supporting Rylesy in doing that," Robinson said. "He's decided he wants to go and pursue that, and the club supports him in that."

On Wednesday, Fox League's James Hooper reported that Roosters powerbrokers no longer wanted Ryles to be part of the team's coaching staff for 2023, having previously indicated they were willing to cut ties with him at the end of the season. The report goes on to say that Roosters supremo and billionaire businessman Nick Politis has encouraged Ryles' manager George Mimis to secure him a new role and the club will release him from a contract that still has more than one year to run.

On Wednesday evening, The Sydney Morning Herald reported that the Dragons could be set to announce Ryles as their new head coach by the end of this week. It's understood a board meeting could be held as early as Thursday night as the Dragons look to decide on the club's next course of action.

From left to right, Roosters NRL assistant coach Jason Ryles and former Dragons coach Anthony Griffin.
Roosters NRL assistant coach Jason Ryles is firming as the man most likely to replace Anthony Griffin at the Dragons. Pic: Getty

Despite these developments and the fact Ryles is an extremely short-priced favourite to take the reins at St George Illawarra, Gould admits he would be "very surprised" if Ryles took the role. Nine's Danny Weidler reports that the Roosters have already lined up retired former club captain Jake Friend to take over as Robinson's assistant, but added that Ryles is only a "50/50" chance of ending up as the next head coach of the Dragons.

Gould told Nine's 100% Footy: "I don't even think it's (50-50). I don't think he's going to the Dragons. I think Jason Ryles is probably a longer-term fix at the Melbourne Storm, if and when Craig Bellamy gives it away."

If Ryles and the Dragons do end up coming to an agreement about him taking over as coach, the Red V would likely have to pay the Roosters compensation, given the fact Ryles would not be honouring the final year of his three-year dal with the Tri Colours. Robinson all but confirmed those reports last week.

Dragons may have to pay compensation for Jason Ryles

"That was the contract (with Ryles)," Robinson said. "We've had discussions around that and if he's going to go and what that looks like.

"That's not to sort of for us to discuss, I haven't really even talked to his manager about it either. He can go through the process and we support him in going for the job. He's ready and it's time for him to go and look at that but that's (for) after this week."

It's understood Ryles' camp are searching for a long-term contract at the Dragons that would allow the rookie head coach to shape the club's future. Ryles would no doubt want a significant say in player retention and recruitment, as well as the make-up of his coaching staff.

The Dragons are currently being led by Griffin's well-credentialed assistant Ryan Carr, who coincidentally won his first game in charge of St George Illawarra against Ryles' Roosters outfit. Despite his stunning start to life an NRL head coach, Carr dismissed suggestions about taking on the Dragons role full-time.

“That’s not really for me to comment on; the club has asked me to do a job right now,” Carr said on Wednesday. “I’m going to try to do that to the best of my ability. Whatever happens next year, happens.

"All I’m worried about is the Dolphins (game on Thursday night)... that’s all I’m focused on. As soon as you look outside of things, there’s no point spending energy on it because it’s a waste of time.”

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