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Price is finally right for Dragons

Steve Jancetic 30/03/2011 06:41:45 PM Comments (0)

In the end, it was hard not to feel sorry for new St George Illawarra coach Steve Price.

At his unveiling as the man to succeed Wayne Bennett at the Dragons in 2012, Price spent much of the nearly 30-minute press conference at Wollongong's Steelers Club in silence.

Patiently he waited as Bennett answered umpteen questions about his legacy and future, and listened as first chief executive Peter Doust and then captain Ben Hornby spoke of their disappointment at seeing Bennett finally make the call to leave.

The thinking time at least allowed him to get a grasp of the enormity of the task ahead.

"Everybody knows that we tried really hard to convince Wayne to extend his term at the Dragons, but in saying that we respect his decision," Doust said.

"Wayne leaves with a significant place in the rich history of St George Illawarra."

Now Price - a 33-year-old former St George and Balmain five-eighth who managed just 12 top grade games in a career cut short by injury - gets the chance to carve out his own legend.

"I've always had aspirations to be an NRL coach and I'm very grateful and honoured to be given this opportunity," Price said.

"(My time under Bennett has) been outstanding, I could not have asked for a better apprenticeship, (he'll) go down as one of the best coaches ever."

Bennett said he encouraged the club to promote Price - in his tenth year as part of the club's coaching structure - despite the ill-fated experience of the last assistant to follow him with Ivan Henjak's two year tenure at Brisbane coming to a premature halt earlier this year.

"He deserves it, he's been a great assistant to me and he's got the respect of everyone in the playing group which is the most important thing a coach can have," Bennett said.

"I'm elated for him, it's the way it should work."

Asked if he could comprehend the enormity of someone having to follow in his footsteps, Bennett said:

"Not really, he knows what works, he's seen it now, he's lived it and he'll have his own personality and put his own pieces to it.

"There's no reason why he'd be daunted by the task, I wouldn't be if I was his age, I'd be looking forward to it."

Hornby said the senior playing group had been consulted ahead of Price's appointment, which had been met with unanimous approval.

"We all thought Steve was right for the job ... we're all right behind him," Hornby said.

"Obviously we were disappointed Wayne is leaving but we respect his decision and we feel like we're privileged to have been involved with him for the years we've had him.

Price admitted the next seven months were all about soaking up as much knowledge as possible.

"... my post doesn't start till November 1, the big fella's driving the bus," Price said.

"I'm just the little bloke sitting next to him for the time being and we've got a job to do this year."

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