ST: You said recently that the World Club Challenge should be played in Australia, why?
PD: It’s a tough ask for an Australian team to the Northern Hemisphere and I thought that with the support the Dragons brand had and Wigan’s brand also in the Northern Hemisphere, that it might be a good quality event to promote in Australia.

The NRL season is less than 14 days away. How confident are you that this trip won’t affect how the Dragons start the year?
I’ve got the utmost confidence in the professionalism in our management. It’s a challenge, but they have shown their skill in planning, rehabilitation and preparation here, as well as in the NRL.

The Broncos, under Wayne Bennett, were the last team to build a dynasty. Can the Dragons go back-to-back?
I think our roster and playing strength puts us in a good position to do that. I’m just not sure anyone can talk about dynasties in Rugby League, the way the salary cap is structured. In 2011, we’re in there with a chance to do that, and we’re quietly positive about our opportunities.

Two years ago, ‘Oust Doust’ signs flew at Kogarah. Were you close to walking away?
No Dave, I think anyone who knows me knows how the red and white flows through me. I take a great deal of confidence and guidance from the board of directors about our club, and people who have been around our club for many years. I wouldn’t criticise people for their opinions, but a lot of the times, they don’t have all the information.

How long did you think you’ll keep going at the Dragons?
I don’t have any plans to take on any other challenges. I spent 25 years involved in Rugby League, running hospitals, private and public. That was a challenge. My challenges now, are continuing to grow this Dragons brand and continuing to deliver for our members and stakeholders.

What about the challenge of keeping Wayne Bennett at the Dragons?
We’re keen to re-sign Wayne. We’re out there doing our best. But at the end of the day, it’s his decision. We know Wayne is a careful and considered person, so while we’re keen to re-sign him, that’s going to be his decision. That will be made in due course and at the end of the debate, people are accountable for long-term success at the Dragons and we’ll deal with those when they’re made.

If he moves on, would you agree Wayne doesn’t owe the Dragons anything, now that he has delivered the Dragons a premiership?
I don’t know if I’d put it exactly like that. I think he’s grown a lot of brand equity in association with the Dragons. In two and a bit years, he’s been here giving his best, and we respect that. I think he respects it. He often talks about his enjoyable time [here] and how it’s been a very valuable experience for him.

Do you think we will ever see Nathan Brown back at the Dragons?
I haven’t got a point of view on that subject to be honest. I’m keen to see Nathan continue to succeed in coaching. I believe he’ll make a career coach. He’ll make decisions where he develops his career.

So you’re ruling out the prospect of him being back at the Dragons?
I think he’d have an ambition to be back at the Dragons in due course. He’s another person who has red and white flowing through him. I always maintain his success was much greater than what people gave him credit for. Wayne even acknowledges that himself. He’s said many times how the club was in such good shape when he arrived, so who knows where these coaches will go or finish up.

Do you want all the coaching sorted out before round one, given the speculation?
Speculation goes with the territory. That’s part of rugby league; be it coaches or players, you can’t expect to not have speculation. The players know where we all are in relation to this, and therefore, I can’t see any real downside.

So Peter, when you say the “players know”, by that you mean you’re not worried about what everyone is saying outside the club, so long as the inner-sanctum has all the information?
That’s the way we do business Dave. The players are a special part of our business, so I communicate through the senior players, the captain in particular, and we’re all confident that if they need to know, they will know.

One player who has made known his affection for Wayne as a coach, is Darius Boyd. If you read between the lines, it appears that if Wayne leaves, then Darius will too.
That’s speculation. Darius is a great footballer, no doubt about it. He’s an intelligent young guy, who will make a decision on where he sees his future, and I’d be very keen to open discussions with him about his future. We don’t know if Wayne is going and we don’t know where Darius will go either.

Have you begun discussions with Darius about staying?
Yes. We’re currently working on our roster, and those players who are off-contract are a key part of what you do in the first part of the year.

By ricky

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