St George Illawarra CEO Ryan Webb says new coach Shane Flanagan's ability to "hit the ground running" played a major part in the club's decision to end his head coaching exile with a three-year deal inked on Wednesday.
Seemingly no chance for the role little more than a fortnight ago, Flanagan was endorsed by the board on Tuesday and was officially on board as the joint-venture's next coach within 24 hours.
It came two weeks after drawn-out negotiations with the club's initial priority candidate Jason Ryles fell at the final hurdle, the former Dragons prop choosing to link with the Storm for a second assistant-coaching stint under Craig Bellamy.
Flanagan had to overcome the reservations of sections of the St George board faction but, after being given the nod, Webb feels the premiership-winning mentor can hasten the club's return to title contention.
"When we looked at where we are situated right now, with the squad, with the kids coming through, and probably with the knowledge our footy department, Shane ticked a lot of the boxes for what we needed," Webb said.
"With Jason it was more about working out what other roles and resources we needed around him. The difference with Shane, because he'd already been employed [at the club] in other roles, we knew pretty quickly what he would bring and where he could add value.
"It was a much quicker process because there's that relationship and understanding of how Shane works.
"Him coming in having relationships, being an experienced coach and having been a successful coach all helps because the playing group and the footy department, probably club and fans as a whole, are disappointed with where we're at right now on the field.
"Shane has confidence in his own knowledge and his own abilities, so we think he can hit the ground running. The initial learning phase isn't there as much. People want to be able to see that we can turn things around quickly and I think Shane gives an element of that."
While his rise to the role has been pitched as an about-face for a board initially uninterested in the 57-year-old, Webb insists Flanagan was never discounted as an option and said the debate was never couched in rookie versus experience terms.
"I don't think we ever had a line put through anyone," Webb said.
"It was more, when we looked at the whole pool of candidates, we had another preferred initial candidate that we focused on. Once Jason decided to go in another direction, we just looked again at who was there and Shane ticked a lot of boxes for us.
"I wouldn't say that it was just simply experience versus a rookie at all. Whether it's a rookie coach or an experienced coach, you have to look how they would fit within a football department and how the football department would fit around them
"You look at 'what are the pieces we need to put around them and how will that work?' Then you make a decision."
"With Shane, or with any coach, they've always got say over their coaching and high performance area," Webb said.
"Whoever you've got, you're bringing someone in because they've got knowledge and they know what they need around them to work really well in that area. I don't think it matters who comes in, you're going to give them plenty of control in that space.
"We've got some great people, Ben Woolf, Ryan Carr and plenty of others around there as well. I'm sure he'll take those guys on but, ultimately, it'll be his call on the people he surrounds himself with."
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