As late as Wednesday morning the Dragons thought they had their man.
At a 8.30am media opp, Dragons boss Ryan Webb talked up the credentials of Jason Ryles, saying one of St George Illawarra's favourite sons was definitely in the mix to be the club's next head coach.
Less than 90 minutes later news broke the former Melbourne Storm and Roosters assistant coach Ryles had rejected the Dragons.
Ryles will instead link up with Craig Bellamy again, after taking up a coaching role with the Storm.
It is understood he has agreed a long-term deal with an option to leave after two seasons if he is offered an opportunity elsewhere.
The news definitely blindsided the Dragons, who had earlier in the week offered Ryles a four-year contract.
The Dragons were also stunned after reports emerged the club were also set to lose their $1 million-plus sponsor St George Bank.
Read more: Ryles knocks back Dragons coaching role
Officials were recently informed by the bank that a relationship that dates back 40 years with the club would come to an end this season.
The major sponsor cited issues with management and poor off-field player behaviour which has culminated in sub-standard on-field performances, with the Dragons now favourite with TAB to win the wooden spoon.
St George Bank's decision to withdraw their sponsorship is sure to put pressure on Webb and chairman Andrew Lancaster.
Webb did not comment on the sponsorship drama but when he fronted the media on Wednesday morning the St George Ilawarra Dragons CEO was confident Ryles would be at the Dragons in 2024.
But instead a couple of hours later he was confirming the news Ryles had rejected the job offer.
"Jason Ryles informed the club today that he would be withdrawing from proceedings," Webb said.
"He communicated to us that he felt this wasn't the right role for him at this time.
"All this means for us is that we continue with the process that was already underway, there is just one fewer candidate in the mix now."
With Ryles officially out of the running, attention turns to other candidates in the running, including former Dragons players Dean Young and Ben Hornby.
Young is an assistant coach at the Cowboys, while Hornby holds the same role at the Rabbitohs.
Webb, speaking before the Ryles drama unfolded, said the aim was to appoint a new coach in the next week or so.
"It's a work in progress, multiple talks still going on, but like all these things trying to do it relatively privately and confidentially as best we can to make sure we get a good outcome.
"But we're hoping that we can bring that to a head in the coming week or so so we can move forward and start planning for 2024 ,"Webb said.
The next coach needed to bring on-field success to a Dragons side which has struggled since the departure of Wayne Bennett in 2011.
"We want someone who can see what we have as a list now, what we have in juniors coming through and we want them to be excited about what they can build for the future," Webb said.
"It's about having someone who can come in and build something that's long lasting.
"We had some really good work going through juniors and Anthony Griffin did some great work on pathways, you will see a nice wave of kids coming through, and a lot of credit needs to go to him on that.
"We need someone who can keep building on that , and it's not necessarily for this year or for 2024, it's what happens beyond. That's why this one is important for us."
Webb admitted Hornby and Young were in the mix, adding their was no hesitation in appointing a rookie coach to oversea the running of the football department.
"Whether it's a rookie coach or experienced coach, you still have to look at it as everything around it, and that comes down to list management and pathways management," he said.
"i suspect whoever comes in will have a few other pieces to come in there and support. We are very keen though to keep Ryan Carr.
"We have lots of good people. Carry is fantastic and he is doing a really good job. Hopefully we can keep the bodies we have now and just add to those to bring some more skills and expertise in the areas we need it.
"I don't think anyone here is against getting better. I think there is good people here but if we can add more to make us even stronger, then we will do that and I think everyone will be open to that.
"We've been slightly under-resourced in the past but our finances are in a really good spot, so we can invest in our football now, and that's what we need to do."
Webb added the sooner a coach was appointed the better in terms of moving forward and planning for season 2024 and beyond.
"It's a time now where things are fairly fluid with players, with a bit of player movement and looking towards 2024.
"Also with managing your cap you can't go bringing in new players the new coach doesn't think fits his system or style. Then with staffing people like to know how settled they can be so definitely the sooner we can get this sorted, the better," Webb said.
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