Ryles closes in on mega four-year deal with Dragons

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St George Illawarra are on the verge of offering Jason Ryles a four-year deal to be become the club’s new head coach and could have him working on reshaping their roster within the next fortnight.

While Ryles’ management had pitched for a mega five-year deal to take over the struggling Dragons, sources speaking on the condition of anonymity due to the confidential talks said the parties are working towards an agreement which would have Ryles at the club until the end of 2027.

It would be a huge show of faith from St George Illawarra in a rookie coach, but would provide enough security to Ryles to ensure he jumps at his first head coaching role rather than wait for Craig Bellamy’s retirement in Melbourne.

Bulldogs coach Cameron Ciraldo walked into a five-year deal after leaving the Panthers as Ivan Cleary’s assistant, and the Dragons are willing to offer an alternate long-term commitment to land their No.1 target.

Negotiations between Ryles’ management and the Dragons will intensify this week.

Roosters chairman Nick Politis is due to return from overseas this week and wants his club to put the matter to bed after weeks of speculation about Ryles’ future following the Dragons’ sacking of Anthony Griffin.

The path has cleared for Jason Ryles to return to the club with whom he played for nine seasons.Credit: Getty

Three-time premiership-winning coach Trent Robinson led his side on a Central Coast camp during their bye week and Ryles, who has been an assistant since 2022, was believed to have stayed at home as the Roosters prioritise the development of aspiring coaches and club legends Jake Friend and Boyd Cordner.

Ryles still wants a strong football department structure around him and it will be a primary focus of talks with the Dragons this week, but any impasse over the duration of the deal has been settled.

Should a deal be struck, Ryles could be working at the club within days.

While there’s no chance of him stepping into the coaching role – Ryan Carr will remain as interim for the rest of the season – it will give him a chance to assess the club’s roster and make the relevant changes to the football department.

Tim Sheens and Benji Marshall performed a similar role last season and left caretaker coach Brett Kimmorley to look after the NRL team after Michael Maguire’s axing.

South Sydney assistant and the Dragons’ former title-winning captain Ben Hornby, as well as Todd Payten’s Cowboys deputy Dean Young, were the other contenders for the St George Illawarra job before the Dragons pursued Ryles.

St George Illawarra slumped to last spot on the ladder after a 26-12 defeat to the Dolphins in Brisbane last Thursday night and face top-eight teams the Panthers, Rabbitohs, Warriors, Sharks and Raiders in the next five weeks.

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