DRAGONS - RUGBY LEAGUE
Steve Price finds himself in all too familiar territory as pressure begins to mount on the Dragons coach before this week's St George Illawarra board meeting.
For the second consecutive year the Dragons have started their season with four wins from 10 matches, with Price now under fire after his side slumped to their sixth loss from the last seven games against Parramatta on Saturday afternoon.
It comes as Price decides whether to play Benji Marshall in the NSW Cup for the Illawarra Cutters on Saturday after his first hit-out for the joint venture last Saturday, as the Dragons have a week off with the bye.
Apparently Price's future isn't on the formal agenda for the St George Illawarra board meeting, but question marks have appeared following a dramatic change of fortunes for the team that won their opening three games of the season.
In the first year of a new two-year deal announced on Anzac Day last year, Price has managed to assemble a strong roster of his own rather than the ageing team inherited from Wayne Bennett in 2012.
Price has added Josh Dugan, Gerard Beale, Gareth Widdop and now Marshall, but the Dragons haven't been able to live up to the promise they displayed in the first month.
In the past fortnight against Canterbury and Parramatta, the Dragons have conceded 74 points and scored just six and now sit 15th overall in defence and 13th in attack.
Some Dragons fans have turned against their coach, with more than 500 signing an online petition in the past 48 hours as part of a campaign to remove Price as head coach.
The petition directed to Dragons chief executive Peter Doust read: "The 2014 season is now an embarrassment. The coach of the Dragons has a mountain of talent to work with and has turned the side into the worst in the competition by far. With better options available in the rugby league world, the fans demand action."
Half a dozen disgruntled fans, led by lifelong Dragons fan Peter Trad, turned up at St George Leagues Club on Sunday afternoon with a 20-metre banner that read: The Price is Wrong.
"We took the banner out to the Leagues Club and we plan to unveil the banner at the next game in round 12 and every game after that," Trad said. "They will probably confiscate it but we will make a new one and bring it out at every game if Price is still there. We've had a lot of support on social media and we want the club to know we're very serious about this."
Price will meet with Illawarra Cutters coach Ian Millward on Monday morning to discuss the possibility of Marshall playing in the NSW Cup against the Newtown Jets at Henson Park on Saturday afternoon.
The Dragons have the bye, and with Marshall admitting the speed of the game had increased during his short absence, a stint in the NSW Cup might provide the former Wests Tigers playmaker with an opportunity to get some miles into his legs.
St George Illawarra, who are now in 13th position, don't play their next game until Monday, June 2 against South Sydney at ANZ Stadium - just five days after the opening game of the State of Origin series.