St George Illawarra coach Anthony Griffin says he took the decision to demote youngsters Tyrell Sloan and Junior Amone for their own benefit.
Fullback Sloan was dropped to the Dragons’ reserve side on Sunday with five-eighth Amone taking a spot on the bench in the club’s 48-14 defeat to Parramatta.
Amone got limited minutes and his position was filled by Jack Bird, while Moses Mbye took Sloan’s No. 1 spot.
Griffin said the decision to take the highly rated pair of 19-year-olds out of his starting side was to protect them following defeats against Penrith and Cronulla.
“We had struggled in the last couple of games,” he said.
“With young guys you need to get them out of there. Their development is a long-term thing and we’ve got some depth in our squad.
“We just need to get a little bit of stability there.
“Those young guys are a big part of our club. It’s just sometimes if they’re a little low on confidence – which they were after the Cronulla game – you’ve got to help them rather than leave them there.”
Bird got on the scoresheet for the Dragons but was relatively quiet otherwise, while Mbye had a tough night at the back.
The former Wests Tigers utility missed a tackle on Dylan Brown for Parramatta’s opener, struggled under the high ball and fumbled a grubberkick in the second half which allowed Eels lock Nathan Brown to touch down.
Despite the underwhelming showing, the Dragons coach said he was pleased with what he saw from his side who clawed their way back into the game to trail 12-8 at the break.
“I thought it was OK for him. Bird was a little bit scrappy here and there but I thought they (Bird and Mbye) gave us something,” he said.
“Our attack, we were too impatient but we were a lot more dangerous despite the scoreline so I’ve got no problems with that.”
Asked if he would persevere with that spine configuration for next Saturday’s game with South Sydney, Griffin said: “We’ll have a look at it.
“We will need to have a good look at that second half. We just lost a lot of big moments.”