Dragons skipper erupts over ‘disgusting’ claim
DISGUSTED captain Cameron McInnes has slammed reports claiming St George Illawarra players are divided over Jack de Belin's presence, saying some critics like to "kick a dog when they are down".
McInnes said he was not surprised by the "media pile-on" after his team slumped to a 0-4 NRL season start that prompted the Dragons board to discuss coach Paul McGregor's future this week.
But he was livid over reports that claimed de Belin - who has been stood down ahead of a court hearing later this month for a 2018 aggravated sexual assault charge - was the cause of their poor form.
Reports claimed the presence of de Belin at training had caused a rift between teammates who supported him and those who didn't.
"It is pretty insulting. As a playing group we are pretty p***ed off about that," McInnes said.
"Jack has gone through a lot the last couple of years and all he has done day in, day out is come to training, do whatever is asked of him, do his best to help us prepare.
"For somebody who has absolutely no knowledge of what actually happens in here … to come out with something like that and heap more pressure on somebody who has already gone through a lot, to be honest is pretty disgusting.
"It shows the lengths people will go to almost kick a dog when they are down - I am pretty disgusted by it to be honest."
McInnes said he understood the criticism but claimed the cause of their problems was simple - their poor completion rates.
"Everyone has got a theory on why we aren't performing. That's rugby league - you've got to win and if you don't questions are asked, we get that," he said.
"When I say I am disgusted by the article I am not shocked by it.
"The more media, the more shows there are, the more analysis there is, the more over-thinking there is.
"But I am telling you right now, if we get our completion rate sorted it will be a different ball game out there."
McInnes said the players all supported McGregor, who earned a reprieve when the board stuck with him on Tuesday, although reports have since emerged the coach has four games to prove his worth.
The hooker said a player honesty session this week led by back-rower Tyson Frizell had the Dragons primed for Sunday's clash with arch rivals Cronulla.
"I think he (McGregor) is copping unfair criticism. For him to be the scapegoat of our situation is unfair," McInnes said.
"I am glad that the stance the club has taken is a strong one and the right one.
"Now it is up to us players to do our bit and turn this around."