Craig Young has identified discipline to be one of the key pillars of his time at the helm of St George Illawarra, after being officially appointed as the NRL club’s chairman.
Young formally began his chairmanship on Wednesday, taking over from Andrew Gordon as part of an agreement in which Illawarra and St George officials rotate in the role.
Gordon served as chairman for the past three years, and will remain on the board under Young.
Gordon’s tenure has included a number of dramatic incidents in the merged club’s history.
He had to navigate through the Jack de Belin sexual assault case, which ultimately ended in two hung juries and the charges being dropped.
At the time of de Belin’s charge late in 2018 the Dragons were a legitimate title contender.
They have not reached the finals since, with former coach Paul McGregor often lamenting the unavailability of de Belin before the lock’s return under Anthony Griffin in 2021.
The Dragons’ most recent campaign was ruined by Paul Vaughan’s illegal barbecue during COVID-19 lockdown, which resulted in the prop being sacked and 12 other players suspended.
St George Illawarra were inside the top eight at the time of the incident, but went winless through the final eight games of the season after it to finish 11th.
Dragons insiders though insist there has since been a turnaround in several of the young players still at the club after the illegal gathering.
“It’s an honour to be appointed chairman of the St George Illawarra Dragons,” Young said.
“I’d like to thank Andrew for his leadership over the past three years in what has been a very difficult period for the club.
“One of my key focuses will be to ensure the discipline and connection across the entirety of this proud organisation continues to progress in a positive manner.
“I, like our valued members, partners and fans, expect a competitive team.
“I am confident we have the right coaching and performance staff in place to get the best out of the squad so we are regularly competing in finals football.”
The other key issue to face Young during his tenure will likely be a decision on the future of Griffin, who is off contract at the end of 2022.
Griffin was only given a two-year deal when he replaced McGregor, but the signs were good before the barbecue derailed their 2021 season.
Meanwhile, Young’s rise means he has now filled almost every position available to him at the Dragons either pre or post-merger.
He was a representative player for St George in the 1970s and 1980s, and was captain of their last premiership as a single entity in 1979.
Young went on to coach the club in 1989 and 1990, before returning in 2003 as a recruitment manager.
He has since held several other roles including assistant coach, integrity officer and board member.