Paul McGregor last man standing for Dragons role


Paul McGregor

Paul McGregor

With Neil Henry likely to take over from John Cartwright as Gold Coast coach, Paul McGregor has firmed as the Dragons' long-term option.

St George Illawarra had discussed chasing Henry, in the wake of Wayne Bennett's decision against a second term in Wollongong in favour of a return to Brisbane.

On Tuesday, the coaching merry-go-round continued, with Cartwright's decision to quit Gold Coast.

The foundation coach announced he had stepped down with the Titans facing the prospect of a fourth straight season without finals football.

Joining Cartwright in the departure lounge was club founder Michael Searle, effectively ending the involvement of two of the biggest characters in the Titans' short existence.

But with Cartwright standing aside and Henry poised to take over, it will have implications on the Dragons' decision to appoint a coach.

After replacing Steve Price mid-season, McGregor now looms as the only option for the Dragons, barring a major change of heart from the St George Illawarra board.

While Cartwright will stay at the club in a non-football role, the end of his eight-year coaching tenure only adds to the uncertainty surrounding the future of a club undergoing a full internal review.

Cartwright was appointed the Titans' inaugural coach in 2007 after serving an apprenticeship as an assistant at the Panthers and Sydney Roosters.

Initial success appeared to point the Titans towards a bright future, with the club coming within a game of the grand final in 2010.

A wooden spoon in 2011 halted the momentum and, as the club battled off-field financial and boardroom issues, Cartwright wasn't able to get the Titans back to the finals.

"The last four years we've underachieved and, at the end of the day, that responsibility comes back to me," Cartwright said.

"I put my hand up - we haven't been successful on the field to maintain my job."

Assistant Henry will take over as interim coach following the Titans' clash with the Roosters at Allianz Stadium on Monday night.

The ex-North Queensland coach is considered the leading contender for the role full-time after impressing board members following his appointment as an assistant last year.

It's believed the club's perilous financial state could also make securing a high-profile coach from outside difficult.

Whoever gets the role will need to make a call on the only remaining foundation players, Luke Bailey and Mark Minichiello, who are both off contract at season's end.

There's also the issue of the current campaign, which Cartwright insists isn't over yet despite the club sitting 13th. AAP


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