NRL 2024: Shane Flanagan, press conference, Tyrell Sloan, Ben Hunt, St George Illawarra Dragons vs Newcastle Knights, Round 5

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Dragons coach Shane Flanagan has explained why he hooked Tyrell Sloan form fullback and pledged to get to the bottom of the side’s inconsistency after their 30-10 loss to the Knights.

Flanagan was frustrated with his side for backing up a strong performance against Manly with a disappointing loss to the Knights, who were far better in atrocious conditions.

“We didn’t handle the conditions as well as them,” Flanagan said.

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“They kicked better, they scored three tries off kicks, last tackle plays, credit to them.

“They handled it better and as I said those three kick tries probably was a thing that changed the game. A late try from another kick, Kalyn picks up, we just didn’t do that well.”

Flanagan vowed to get to the bottom of why his team can produce diamonds one week and rocks the next after slumping to two wins and three losses for the season.

“You must speak to the players because that’s exactly what it is, it’s inconsistent,” Flanagan said.

“And we know we need to get to the bottom of it, whether it’s the talent in the dressing room or there’s something else underlying, I need to get to the bottom of it.

“But it’s definitely inconsistent and we should have been better tonight, credit to the opposition. They were terrible conditions but they handled it better than we did.

“We know we can go on when we need to but we’re not consistent enough and we need to find out why. Tonight was tricky conditions but it’s not an excuse.”

Flanagan was blunt with summing up why he moved Sloan to the wing and Lomax to fullback in the second half.

“Three tries, yeah, that wasn’t good enough,” Flanagan said.

Flanagan was pressed if the move was a sign of things to come.

“No not really,” Flanagan said.

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“As I said, he’s a young kid and he needs to learn, it’s a tough game and you need to put your head where people are going to put their boots and there’s going to be a collision and it didn’t happen in the first three tries, so I needed to make a change and I’m not afraid to do those type of things.

“I need to make change at this club, that’s my job and I’m going to make change.”

Flanagan is hopeful Jack Bird’s knee injury is not serious.

“Yeah, it didn’t look good at the time, I’m not quite sure having checked on it, what it is but I think it was okay to come back on eventually so it can’t be too bad,” Flanagan said.

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Dragons skipper Ben Hunt conceded the Knights outplayed them in the wet conditions and was critical of his own performance.

“They just played the wet conditions better, I let us down with their kicking game a lot,” Hunt said.

“I ust put us in bad situations and they kicked better and capitalised on it.”

Hunt had some advice for Sloan after he was replaced at fullback.

“Just to keep learning, keep growing as a player,” Hunt said.

“You know, we all come through as young guys and you need to just keep evolving, keep learning the game and keep working out how you can put your body on the line for the team.”

Hunt was cagey when pressed on reports he wants an extension at the Dragons.

“I haven’t got too much to say on it at the moment but definitely feel like I can play on here at the Dragons,” Hunt said.

“There’s been a lot of things that have changed.”

“There’s been a lot of changes and there’ll be more to change,” Flanagan interjected.

Originally published as ‘Needs to learn, it’s a tough game’: Flanagan lifts lid on hooking Sloan from fullback