St George Illawarra players have urged Dean Young to serve as an assistant coach next season as the 36-year-old gave a strong endorsement for incoming mentor Anthony Griffin.
Young, who will give NRL Nines sensation Cody Ramsey his debut against Canberra this weekend, missed out on the job after the Dragons board agreed on Monday to appoint Griffin for two years.
On Tuesday, Dragons players said he had taken the decision well and had spoken highly of Griffin.
Griffin and Young worked together with the Tonga team that beat Australia and Great Britain at the end of last season and have maintained a close relationship since.
It is understood that Griffin wants Young to remain on as an assistant and St George Illawarra players expect him to do so.
"In terms of his staying, of course, I would love him to stay," Dragons captain Cameron McInnes said.
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"He is a great coach and a great person. I think one day he will be a head coach so I would love to have him stay but it's up to him."
Prop Blake Lawrie was also keen for Young to remain with the club and expects the interim coach to revert to the role he held before Paul McGregor's departure four weeks ago.
"Dean loves the club, he will do anything for this club and I think he is still going to be an assistant coach next year," Lawrie said.
"He is still on contract if he wants to so he is going to be around the club."
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Winger Jordan Pereira credited Young for helping him to make it into the NRL after only taking up league in Perth at 20 years-of-age.
"When I came here I definitely wasn't up to standard and he has been a big part of getting me to where I am at," he said.
"Hopefully I can continue to grow under him in some way."
The players learned the news of Griffin’s appointment late on Monday from football manager Ben Haran and Young addressed them before training on Tuesday.
"He said he spent some time with him [Griffin] during the Tonga camp, and he said that we are in really good hands," Pereira said.
Ben Hunt and Corey Norman played under Griffin at Brisbane, while Trent Merrin and Kade Ellis, who has been named to start in place in the front row in place of Lawrie on Saturday against the Raiders, were with him at Penrith.
Lawrie said they had also spoken positively about Griffin’s appointment.
"Everyone I have spoken to seemed to get along with him really well," Lawrie said. "He tells it how it is which is what you really want."
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McInnes said the board's belief that an outside voice was needed as the next Dragons coach would make little difference if the players didn't accept greater responsibility for results.
"This squad needs to take on more accountability for our performance. Whether we need a new voice or whatever, nothing will change until we do that," he said.
"If you don't win someone gets tapped on the shoulder but what's disappointing to me is that as players we made exactly the same mistakes week in and week out. Coaches are the ones who pay for it sometimes."
With the team's finals hopes ending with last Sunday night's golden point loss in North Queensland, Young has decided to give Ramsey some NRL experience.
The 20-year-old was the top try scorer at February's NRL Nines in Perth before undergoing shoulder surgery and he re-joined the Dragons squad in July.
Ramsey will replace Fijian winger Mikaele Ravalawa and play outside Zac Lomax on the right edge in St George Illawarra’s last home match of the season at WIN Stadium against Canberra on Saturday.