Matt Cooper smokes at St George Illawarra Dragons over awards night sub as George Burgess speaks out

The Dragons face a serious culture crisis with a fired star revealing his broken relationship with the coach and a great club declaring that the place “has no more loyalty and honor”.

It all stems from suggestions that coach Anthony Griffin has lost the locker room, a rumor that has garnered a lot of attention in recent weeks with the release of requests from exciting young prospects Jayden Sullivan and Tyrell Sloan.

Now veteran front rower George Burgess has revealed that he was clearly on the outside during his first season with the Dragons.

The 30-year-old was released from the final year of his contract on Monday after reaching a mutual agreement with the Dragons.

The Englishman told The Daily Telegraph that it would be a “disappointing” end to his career if it were his last season in the game as it was highlighted by a strained relationship with the coach.

George Burgess of the Dragons watches from the bench during the round four NRL match between the Parramatta Eels and the St George Illawarra Dragons at CommBank Stadium, on April 3, 2022, in Sydney, Australia.Source: Getty Images

“I just didn’t get along with Hook (coach Griffin) and he made it pretty clear to me, he just about wrote me off.

“So I wasn’t that eager to go back to train under him to be honest.

“In the end, you just want a coach to believe in you.

“It’s no use going back if the coach doesn’t believe in me.”

Burgess declined to delve into rumors of a split playing group at the Red V, stating that he was “not kidding the club at all”.

His comments came just hours after club great Matt Cooper debunked the current state of the club over a report that only three current players attended Dragons’ Awards night in the first week of October.

Matt Cooper of the Dragons runs with the ball during the third round of the NRL game between the St George Dragons and the North Queensland Cowboys at WIN Stadium on March 26, 2010.Source: Getty Images

Cooper, who played in 244 games for the Dragons, took to Twitter to share his frustration at yet another damaging story emerging from his beloved team.

“Can’t believe 3 players went to #redv awards night!!! Actually I can!” Kuiper wrote.

“The club has lost loyalty and honor. That all stopped when Wayne Bennett left.”

Cooper’s comments came after Craig Young, president of St. George Illawarra, faced the disappointing turnout of the players on the awards night.

Young, also a legend of the club, refused to downplay the story or blow it away as a media spin, telling The Daily Telegraph that it was “disappointing to say the least”.

“We had eight or nine players who had World Cup commitments and their absence was understandable.

“But the other players should have been there. When I played, you couldn’t wait to get there.

“It’s not like you have to pay for anything. It’s free food and drink. There is no excuse.”

The club president agreed that culture at the Dragons needs to be improved for a 2023 season that sees coach Anthony Griffin under intense pressure to keep his job.

Dragons chairman Craig Young. NRL imagesSource: Delivered

Burgess to hear

Meanwhile, Burgess is due to be heard in February next year after being charged with sexually touching a woman earlier this year. He has indicated that he will contest the charges.

The Dragons also reported in July that Burgess had spent time in a rehab center to deal with personal issues.

The club announced on Monday that Burgess has been replaced in the squad by Zane Musgrove, who will join the club after three seasons with the Tigers.

The 26-year-old has played 62 NRL matches and will add more size to their experienced pack.

“Zane is an established NRL player with a strong physical presence and will be a great addition to our forward-thinking pack,” said Dragons general manager of football Ben Haran.

George Burgess of the Dragons in action during the Charity Shield NRL Trial Match between the South Sydney Rabbitohs and St George Illawarra Dragons.Source: Getty Images

“We’ve been looking forward to building our forward package and we’re excited to see Zane join the Dragons.”

Musgrove had two years left on his contract with the Tigers, but his decision to leave has freed up space for the club to pursue a big name ahead of the new season.

“He’s loved and respected by his teammates here at Wests Tigers,” said Wests Tigers chief executive Justin Pascoe.

“This move is an opportunity that works for us as a club and for Zane.

“We wish Zane all the best for his future and thank him for his efforts over the past three years.”

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