St George Illawarra have earmarked Laurie Daley as a potential coach but will stick by Steve Price until at least the end of this season.
It is understood that NSW coach Daley sits on top of the Dragons’s coaching wish list, which includes former coach Wayne Bennett and Gold Coast assistant Neil Henry.
Daley, who will lead the Blues into camp on Tuesday, has an association with the Dragons, having been part of Nathan Brown’s coaching staff in 2003 in his first senior coaching position. Despite being a rookie NRL coach, Daley has impressed St George Illawarra officials with his handling of recent NSW setbacks.
The Dragons’ board is in no rush to finalise its long-term coaching staff and is monitoring Bennett’s situation with Newcastle closely as it looks to entice the 2010 premiership-winning coach back to the club.
While Bennett has another year to run with the Knights, he is among 20 staff members not to have been paid this month.
A return to Brisbane or the Dragons loom as destinations for Bennett should the situation in Newcastle worsen.
While no formal approaches have been made, the Dragons will step up their search for a long-term coach, effectively throwing the position open to all applicants.
It is expected that they will meet with Henry – who is without a head coaching position for the first time since 2006 after being dumped by the Cowboys at the end of last year – before finalising their decision within the next two months.
Incumbent Price has not been ruled out of extending his three-year tenure at the club, however recent results have counted against him, and he is yet to guide the Dragons to a finals appearance since taking over from Bennett in 2012.
A consultant engaged by the club last year set key performance indicators for the coaching staff - including Price and assistants Craig Young and Paul McGregor - this year and put the recommendation to the Dragons board that they explore the coaching market before finalising their 2015 mentor.
The Dragons have an option on Price’s services beyond this year.
St George Illawarra continue to track Craig Bellamy’s situation at the Storm, having agonisingly missed out on the veteran coach to lead them this year.
Regardless of St George Illawarra’s long-term plans, Price is expected to coach the club until at least the end of this year.
Fairfax Media were told that it would take a run of catastrophic results for Price to be sacked before season’s end.
Only David Waite has left the club mid-season since the joint venture was established in 1999.
Price’s position has been under increasing pressure as the Dragons slumped to six losses from their past seven games when they were left scoreless against the Eels on Saturday.