Classy NRL gesture is picture perfect
A heartwarming moment of sportsmanship put a sheen on the most satisfying NRL win Stephen Kearney has been a part of as coach of the Warriors on Saturday night.
After beating St George Illawarra 18-0, the Warriors gathered as a group while Dragons skipper Cameron McInnes addressed the team to thank them for their sacrifices to restart the NRL season.
The Warriors have spent four weeks in Australia and are likely to be here until at least round nine to keep the competition running after the coronavirus shutdown.
And despite the uneven scoreline, it was a gracious gesture from the Dragons who are hurting after three straight losses to start the season.
Kearney said the goodwill shown to the club from other NRL clubs has been humbling - typified by the Sydney Roosters loaning Poasa Faamausili to the club for four weeks, although they were yet to win a game themselves before this weekend.
The 24-year-old will join the Warriors on Sunday as part of a revolutionary loan deal to help the injury-hit team while staying isolated in Australia.
Saturday's win was the first of the season for the Warriors and Kearney said it was satisfying after the ordeal his team has endured over the past few months.
"I was pretty pleased for the boys. I'm really proud of the way they've gone about the last couple of months," Kearney said.
"The way they've responded in the last couple of months, they've just got on with the job and that's what I was most pleased about.
"It means a great deal to not only the group but to families back home. We've got a footy club that's still operating, all our footy staff back home, administration and all of our fans.
"I know there would have been a lot of them watching it was really pleasing to put in a performance they can be proud of."
Meanwhile, under-fire St George coach Paul McGregor lashed his team for a lack of passion and promised to swing the axe if they continue to underperform. Saturday's loss to the Warriors marked the Dragons' worst start to an NRL season in seven years and follows hard on the heels of their worst season as a joint venture in 2019.
McGregor is now under pressure to keep his job just three games into a two-year contract extension after six seasons in charge.
Although he denied he is feeling any pressure, McGregor said players need to take personal responsibility for their effort and passion for the jersey.
"It's got to come from within," he said. "Belief is a by-product of success too and we've lost a few games and we're coming off a not a great year.
"We've got to find that. Passion is being excited to play, it's about being in the moment and going after it so that comes down to the individual.
"The scrimmages at training, the intensity that we've trained at, is not transferring on to the field on game day.
"The passion, the excitement, the competitiveness needs to be there, shown by everyone." While the Warriors were slick and near faultless, the Dragons were disorganised in attack and failed to fire a shot when in threatening field position.
"Attitude is by-product of belief and today at times they looked like strangers out there," he said.
"We didn't do anything at speed and a couple of the tries they scored needed to be defended and they weren't. Defence is all about attitude.
"When we had some field position we turned over possession twice so we didn't play with any composure there either."
Leading into the game players were told no one's position is safe, and McGregor said he would consider making changes for the next round clash with Canterbury. "I'd like to reflect a little bit and watch the game again and talk to my staff," he said.
"There's no reserve grade now there's only one way for players to get an opportunity and that's by performing on game day.
"If we feel the right adjustment to the team needs to be done, there'll be changes.
"If we feel there's no right adjustment we'll keep the 17, but it will be a discussion point this week."
Originally published as Classy NRL gesture is picture perfect