NRL 2020: Anthony Griffin, favourite for Dragons coach, Dean Young, Paul McGregor

Former Broncos and Panthers coach Anthony Griffin is leading the race for the Dragons’ head coach role.

The Sydney Morning Heraldreports Griffin, the “early frontrunner”, is at the top of a shortlist which will be presented to the board to kick off the formal interview process.

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And remarkably his rival for the job, Dean Young, is backing the 53-year-old.

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According to the Herald, interim coach Young, who is also gunning for the job, gave the club a “glowing endorsement” of Griffin.

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The two spent time together as assistant coaches with the Tongan International team last year.

If Griffin lands the gig, the club wants Young to stay on as his assistant but Shane Flanagan is likely to leave.

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Roosters assistant Craig Fitzgibbon and Knights assistant David Furner are also in the conversation for the role. However, it’s widely known and accepted that Fitzgibbon won’t walk out on his contract a year early.

The Dragons reportedly depicted three areas they wanted to base their selection off: defence, discipline and a history of building a successful culture.

Griffin is a match for all three.

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The ultimate disciplinarian is known for expecting a certain level of professionalism from his players. He has an overall win rate of 55.5% (53.5% with Brisbane and 58.3% with Penrith).

The Broncos played in three finals series out of the four seasons he spent at the club before he was moved on to make way for Wayne Bennett’s homecoming in 2014.

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Phil Gould picked up Griffin to replace Ivan Cleary at the Panthers in 2016, only to axe him on the eve of the 2018 finals series, when Penrith were sitting fourth, ultimately to make way for Cleary to return.

During his time at the foot of the mountains, Griffin took the Panthers to back-to-back finals series and were set to play in their third before he was shown the door. He impressed so much he signed a two-year contract extension at the end of the 2017 season and left with one of the best records of a departing coach in the NRL era.

Since his exit, Griffin has struggled to land a head coaching role since. He was in the conversation for the Warriors and Bulldogs jobs but was beat out by Nathan Brown and Trent Barrett.

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