Dragons coach Paul McGregor speaks to the media during the Round 22 NRL match between the Cronulla Sharks and the St George Illawarra Dragons at Pointsbet Stadium in Sydney, Sunday, August 18, 2019. (AAP Image/Joel Carrett) NO ARCHIVING, EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Dragons coach Paul McGregor speaks to the media during the Round 22 NRL match between the Cronulla Sharks and the St George Illawarra Dragons at Pointsbet Stadium in Sydney, Sunday, August 18, 2019. (AAP Image/Joel Carrett) NO ARCHIVING, EDITORIAL USE ONLY

Hunt could face axe after worst start in seven years

PREMIERSHIP-winning hooker Michael Ennis has called for St George-Illawarra's $1-million man Ben Hunt to be axed from the halfback jumper.

In a forthright appraisal after the Dragons shock 18-0 defeat to the Warriors on Saturday, Ennis said the under-pressure Dragons coach Paul McGregor has no other choice but to make changes to save his coaching career.

For the first time since finishing 14th in 2013, the Dragons are 0-3 to start a season and face Canterbury next week to stop the year spiralling out of control.

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"It was extremely disappointing,"' Ennis said of the Dragons' performance.

"The headline we should be talking about is the Warriors, but unfortunately for the Dragons with the experience they've got in their side, with the key playmakers they've got, you expect a lot more.

"He's got some huge decisions to make, Paul McGregor, who was under enormous pressure coming into the season, but to lose this afternoon, to have lost three straight now and (to see) the performance of their high-profile players, none more than Ben Hunt in the No. 7 jersey, I believe (McGregor's) got some big decisions to make if he's going to remain head coach of this club.

"It's as simple as that."

Ben Hunt could be axed by the Dragons after a poor start to the season. Picture: Getty Images.
Ben Hunt could be axed by the Dragons after a poor start to the season. Picture: Getty Images.

Speaking on Fox League, Ennis pointed to the Dragons' lack of creativity in attack and poor end-of-sets as enough evidence to shift Hunt and move Corey Norman into the halfback role.

"I honestly believe Ben Hunt needs to be taken out of that No. 7 jersey,"' Ennis said.

"I really think that's an option for Paul McGregor - not to take him (Hunt) out of the side, but I would love to see him go back to that No. 14 jersey.

"Give (Hunt) some freedom, allow him to play like he does when we see him play for Australia, when we see him play for the Queensland side.

"At the moment, they're just not getting what they need out of those key positions."

The Dragons started the season with two defeats.
The Dragons started the season with two defeats.

A disappointed Hunt conceded he and the team's performance wasn't good enough and said his combination with Norman was a work in progress.

"It didn't work really well today, I don't think," Hunt said.

"I feel like we've definitely been working well in the off-season and I think we can continue to grow.

"It's very disappointing. I think the Warriors just played the new rules better than we did."



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