Price wears heart on his sleeve for NRL showdown

The image of Steve Price trudging into last year's Anzac Day post-mortem interview with the media, his grandfather's war medals on his chest, to explain his contract extension is a lingering one.

Steve Price

Steve Price

Amid the uncertainty and speculation about a coach apparently on the caper's death row - not aided by the Dragons throwing a bucketload of cash at Craig Bellamy - it seemed the weight of the rugby league world had been lifted off his shoulders.

The fact that his St George Illawarra players were rabbits caught in the Anzac Day headlights by a rampant Roosters needn't have mattered.

Neither did the fact Price's contract extension was announced midway through the first half, just as Anthony Minichiello raced in another Roosters try.

Twelve more months. It was all Price wanted. He got it.

"When we [were] told, everyone was just happy for him," says Trent Merrin, who like all teammates only gleaned the news after they had left the field or in sideline post-game interviews.

"There were claps, high fives and there was a lot of positivism around him."

But after a 34-10 thrashing on the biggest match of the regular season? Claps and high fives when a good old-fashioned roasting of his players might have been more appropriate?

"What Mez says was right," adds skipper Ben Creagh.

"Guys were really happy for Pricey because we knew he had been under a fair bit of pressure at the time and all during that time he didn't show it to the players.

"He kept it to himself and that's the best quality about Pricey ... he doesn't let those outside influences affect him or the team. He's very unselfish."

Those in the Dragons' inner sanctum tell of a fiercely loyal coach with a sense of humour to match.

Those outside the inner sanctum would hardly know [Price politely declined the chance to be interviewed for this story].

So what we do know is he loves a beer and a water ski, even competing in the gruelling 112-kilometre Bridge to Bridge alongside former Dragon Reece Simmonds last year.

They set off only hours after Sarah Teelow's death in an accident during the race.

He'll also rise before dawn on Friday to attend Anzac Day ceremonies as his players conserve energy for the rugby league hostilities later in the day.

That's the personal side of a 36-year-old, who appears to have at least inherited the famous man-management skills of predecessor Wayne Bennett, when it comes to more serious matters.

"He's my coach as well as a mate." Merrin said.

"He's helped me personally tweaking my game and given me a lot more freedom on the field instead of clogging me up.

"If you've ever got a problem or a worry you just give him a buzz and he's there to help you."

Price only has to look at his opposite in the coaching box on Anzac Day, former lower-grade teammate Trent Robinson, to see how quickly expectations can be surpassed in 12 months.


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