ST GEORGE Illawarra have their new head coach, with the board opting to hand Anthony Griffin the reins for the next two seasons.
One of three candidates interviewed for the role on Thursday, along with David Furner and interim coach Dean Young, the former Brisbane and Penrith mentor got the nod.
The 54-year-old became the red-hot favourite for the role once priority candidate Craig Fitzgibbon spurned interest to see out the final year of his contract as assistant to Trent Robinson at the Roosters.
It will see Griffin resume the career that's seen him coach 173 first grade games with Brisbane and Penrith, the latter sacking him in 2018 despite edging towards a top-four finish.
The quest for a new coach had reportedly divided the board, but CEO Ryan Webb said it was ultimately a unanimous decision to go with Griffin.
"Anthony is an experienced operator with a proven track record across his previous seven seasons as a head coach," Webb said.
"The board of directors were unanimous in their decision on Monday afternoon in appointing Anthony ahead of the other candidates.
"Anthony has missed finals football only once which speaks to the strong discipline and ability to develop young talent of which he has exhibited both throughout his career.
"The next steps for the Dragons are now determining the correct framework and structures to put around Anthony and the football department to ensure his tenure as coach is a successful one."
Current interim coach Young is tipped to stay on as an assistant - and possible long-term successor - to Griffin, a relationship that's brought success with Tonga at Test level.
"There is no doubt that St George Illawarra is one of the biggest and proudest clubs in the game and I am excited to commence my role as coach later in the year," Griffin said.
"While results may not have gone in the club's favour in recent years, I see many a positive in the playing squad and the current crop of juniors currently coming through the ranks.
"My goal is a simple one, to ensure the Dragons are a club that every member, partner and fan can be proud of moving forward."
The Dragons will go without finals action this season, for the seventh time in nine years, with Griffin facing the task of rebuilding the club and winning over its disillusioned fan base.
His past history with much-maligned halves Ben Hunt and Corey Norman reportedly played in his favour, having coached the pair in both the NYC and NRL at the Broncos.
It's his first head-coaching role since his acrimonious departure from Penrith in 2018 after a well-publicised fall-out with then general manager of football Phil Gould. There were also suggestions of a rift with sections of the Panthers playing group over his hard-nosed approach.
Those reports re-emerged in recent weeks but the Dragons are seen as a club in need of a disciplinarian to restore the club as a finals force.