The door remains ajar for Shane Flanagan to join the St George Illawarra coaching staff after the club announced their off-field staff for the 2020 season.
As expected, Paul McGregor will remain in charge of the NRL side next year, with James Shepherd announced as an assistant coach. The Dragons will hire a second assistant coach, with Flanagan tipped to be the man to join the club.
Such a move would mark the end of the former Cronulla coach's exile from the NRL, with Flanagan suspended by the NRL last December for remaining involved in the operations of the Sharks while he was on a one-year suspension in 2014 for his role in the club's peptides regime.
Flanagan was given permission to return to coaching by Todd Greenberg in September, however he remains banned from any head coach position for the next two years.
Shepherd was the under 20s coach at the Sharks in 2014 and stepped into the head coaching role midway through the season. Most recently he was an assistant coach at the Newcastle Knights.
Shephered has been signed to replace Ben Hornby, with Dean Young set to continue his role as an assistant coach.
McGregor praised the appointment of Shepherd and said he's looking forward to working with the experienced assistant.
"Our performances throughout the 2019 season were not demonstrative of this proud club, given also the successful season we produced 12 months prior," McGregor said.
"There are plenty of positives that have come from the review. We accept we didn't play to our potential as a team last season. The review has also provided everyone involved a chance to reflect and learn from the hardships of 2019.
"The amount of change implemented across the football department hasn't occurred for a very long time and will provide a positive new approach to the 2020 season.
"I look forward to overseeing a collective rejuvenation of our on-field structures; this will be indicative of the football department changes as well as further involvement from the playing group."
The appointment of Shepherd comes amid a mass overhaul of the Dragons football department following the completion of a review into the club's disappointing season.
St George Illawarra finished 15th in a year in which nothing went right for the club. From the indefinite suspension of Jack de Belin to the long-term injuries to star players including departing captain Gareth Widdop, the Dragons struggled all season.
A review was conducted by Phil Gould, with the former Panthers boss finding McGregor required an experienced figure to act as an adviser. Gould also determined the club lacks a firm culture.
Nathan Pickworth remains head of athletic performance, with Alex Clarke replaced by Adrian Jimenez as head of strength and conditioning. Jimenez was previously at the Parramatta Eels and spent 11 years with the Melbourne Storm.
Steve Dean will lead the physiotherapy team, while Gerard Murphy will guide the club's culture and leaders. Matt Griggs has been signed as a mind and performance coach.
Dragons CEO Brian Johnston acknowledged the 2019 season was not good enough and said he's confident the new coaching staff will help lead to a rebound on the field next year.
"Everyone at the Dragons were terribly dissatisfied with the club's 2019 season campaign which resulted in this wide-ranging internal and external review of the club's football department," Johnston said.
"The Dragons have made key structural changes to its coaching, performance and medical staff following the determination of a lack of experience within the wider group. This includes several new staff appointments to the football department.
"It was noted throughout the review that there needed to be a greater focus on club culture and leadership. In acknowledging this, the club have taken steps in this space in order to bring further accountability and discipline to the playing group.
"The Dragons are also in the process of renovating its facilities at WIN Stadium. This is for the benefit of not only the players but the staff situated in Wollongong as well.
"All of our stakeholders, including our partners, members and supporters can rest assured that the Dragons have not taken this process lightly and look forward to greater success in our upcoming campaign and beyond."
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