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Price not bothered by Dragons shadow

For so much of Steve Price's short tenure as St George Illawarra coach, the role hasn't been about Steve Price.
Price not bothered by Dragons shadow
by AAP

By Steve Jancetic

SYDNEY, Feb 27 AAP - For so much of Steve Price's short tenure as St George Illawarra coach, the role hasn't been about Steve Price.

Called on to succeed coaching great Wayne Bennett, Price was on a hiding to nothing last NRL season when success was always going to be measured against his predecessor's results.

He managed to guide an ageing Dragons squad - whose premiership window had clearly slammed shut - within one win of a fifth straight finals appearance, but it hardly put a dent in the insatiable appetite of the success-hungry club.

It prompted the Dragons to again go in search of proven coaching talent, as they chased Melbourne premiership winner Craig Bellamy with a fist full of dollars.

When Bellamy stayed put, Price was left to carry on in the clear knowledge he was the second choice.

From one shadow to another, Price remains desperate for his moment to shine.

"I wouldn't say the shadow, but it's important that I coach the way Steve Price wants to coach," Price said of moving on from the Bennett era.

"I definitely feel I'm a lot more mature in certain aspects and I'd like to think I could be a lot better the second year around."

He would want to as well, as he attempts to avoid being the first coach in the joint-venture's short history to oversee consecutive campaigns without finals football.

What Price will definitely have to improve on in 2013 is his side's impotent attack, the worst in last year's competition when they scored just 74 tries in 26 games.

That his side finished two points outside the top eight hardly seemed to matter when stacked up against their inability to get over the stripe.

Simply put, the criticism of Price was more about style than results.

He tinkered with the left edge play that had become so predictable under Bennett, but with disastrous results as key playmakers Jamie Soward and Ben Hornby lost their way.

With Hornby joining fellow stalwart Dean Young in retirement, Price has little choice but to overhaul rather than just tinker.

He believes he's made the necessary adjustments, which along with the recruitment of ex-Bronco Gerard Beale to play fullback, has Price confident the Dragons will be a much more dynamic attacking unit in 2013.

"We're in a better place than we were at this stage last year - where we are in terms of our skill," Price said.

"It (the attacking structure) has definitely worked a lot better this pre-season, the guys have really bought into it.

"It's a changing in the guard with the likes of Ben Hornby and Dean Young going, but I'm really comfortable with the younger players coming through that have been in the system a few years now."

And while Soward and veteran halfback Nathan Fien will be asked to carry the load, Price said it was time for some of his younger brigade to go from promising footballers to top level NRL stars.

"It's an opportunity for the Mitch Reins, the Jack de Belins, the Cameron Kings to really take this club forward," Price said.

"Their time has to arrive. They have to step up. They need to take it by the balls.

"Matty Prior's another one. He's been in the system a few years now. He's got to step up.

"I'm confident they can all do that."

Without a contract beyond this season, Price had better hope so.


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