Sheens good fit for Dragons: Benji

RUGBY LEAGUE

Dragons half Benji Marshall attempts to slip from Anthony Milford's grasp in Saturday's match in Canberra. Picture: GETTY IMAGES

Dragons half Benji Marshall attempts to slip from Anthony Milford's grasp in Saturday's match in Canberra. Picture: GETTY IMAGES

Dragons playmaker Benji Marshall declared St George Illawarra should consider Tim Sheens as coach next year, believing he can help develop the young squad into a premiership force.

Sheens, Marshall's former coach at Wests Tigers, emerged on the Dragons' radar after Wayne Bennett decided to turn down an offer to return to Wollongong, instead choosing to take charge at Brisbane next year.

With the other main coaching candidate, Neil Henry, expected to be appointed long-term at Gold Coast after John Cartwright stood down, Dragons officials are reconsidering their options.

Interim coach Paul McGregor has player support, as well as several influential club members, but mixed results in the past month have not convinced the board.

Marshall had previously endorsed McGregor as being ready to coach in the NRL, but believes Sheens's experience could be just what the Dragons need.

"It would be a good fit, especially for the younger players," Marshall told Sydney radio Triple M on Sunday, after the Dragons broke the long-standing Canberra hoodoo on Saturday.

"When you're coached under him, he sort of emphasises a lot on the basics of playing footy.

"For the young guys coming through - and we do have a young squad at the Dragons - it would do wonders for a lot of the young guys there."

If Sheens was to be appointed, Trent Barrett has been touted for a return to Wollongong as an assistant, with a view of him being the head coach in future.

However, another option would be for McGregor to stay on under Sheens, before taking the reins in the future.

After sacking Steve Price mid-season, the Dragons stayed in finals contention with a 34-16 victory to break the Raiders hoodoo, which had stood for the past 14 years.

Marshall's endorsement could help clear the way for Sheens to come to Wollongong, after the 2005 Tigers premiership hero was last year forced to deny he had a role in the current Australian coach's sacking at Wests.

In June, Marshall declared McGregor worthy of the Dragons role long-term, however, a number of officials are gun-shy about appointing the former Steelers and Dragons centre after the coaching tenures of Nathan Brown and Price.

"I think he's got what it takes to be a great coach and carry this club through the next 10 years," Marshall told the Mercury at the time.

"All the boys respect Mary and he commands that respect from everyone and their excellence at training.

"All the boys just want to play for him.

"It's an important part of the game I think. I really rate him and I'll put my neck out to say that I'd love to be coached by him the whole time I'm here."

Marshall said the Dragons players have been told by McGregor not be distracted by the ongoing coaching situation.

"We don't really get told too much about what's going on," he said on Sunday.

"With Mary, he's sort of said don't get involved in the saga about who's going to be coach and who's not going to be coach, because they're things we can't control.

"But he said our next coach is going to be watching the way we're playing, so we need to perform for whoever that may be."

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