Dragons veteran backs Mary, puts heat on players

Veteran James Graham says St George Illawarra's under-performing stars "owe it" to Paul McGregor to save his Dragons coaching career and the side's own NRL season.

Hailing McGregor as a "great man manager" and "quality coach", Graham believes the onus is on the players to dig the winless Dragons out of a deep, deep hole.

McGregor is under immense pressure after virtually the same line-up that almost made the 2018 preliminary final have won just four of their past 21 matches and two of their past 11 - both against last year's wooden spooners.

"We owe it to him. We owe it to him to do better," Graham told NRL 360.

"He's had a hand in every single one of those players being in this squad.

"So we owe it to him to do it. He's a quality coach and we've been down this road before.

"Nobody cares about this club more than him. He cares so much. He's a smart man. He can break teams down ..."

Yet it's McGregor's own team that looks broken, forcing the besieged coach to split his highly-paid but misfiring halves pairing of Corey Norman and Ben Hunt for Monday's must-win clash with fellow strugglers Canterbury.

Norman willl move to fullback to allow rookie Adam Clune to debut at halfback at Bankwest Stadium.

"I wouldn't look at it as panic. I would look at it as keeping people accountable and some people have earnt their way into the team," Graham said.

"There's stuff that we've spoken about in terms of breaking - that negative feedback - that's private. That's within the group.

"We are down on confidence and we get that by winning and it's everyone's job to do the little things.

"I can't compliment the whole coaching staff enough for the amount of effort and time and detail that they have put in.

"But it's just not transferring on to the field. We owe it to them to be better."

Graham accepts the Dragons won't solve their woes overnight.

"I don't think it's an easy fix. It's going to require a lot of hard work from the playing group," he said.

"It's got to be done as a team. It's not going to be done by individual brilliance."

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