Iro eyes top job as Dragons' warriors depart
Fond farewell ... Ben Hornby will make his final home appearance for the Dragons tonight. Photo: Dave Tease
AS TWO doors close at Wollongong tonight, the man in the Warriors coaching box will be hoping to open his so fast that it falls off its hinges.
The St George Illawarra faithful are expected to flock to farewell two of their dearest, with local juniors Ben Hornby and Dean Young to make their final appearances on home soil.
But as two careers end, one could just be beginning.
Former Kiwi international Tony Iro will make his NRL coaching debut against the Dragons, the long-time assistant thrust into the role following the sacking of Brian McClennan who failed to see out his first season in charge.It is the first of a two-week audition Iro hopes will lead to a more permanent role - with former Parramatta coach Stephen Kearney seen as his main opposition for the job.
''A disappointing way to get one, but an opportunity nonetheless,'' Iro said. ''Getting on the bus I'll be sitting at the front, but I'll certainly be looking forward to it.''
McClennan was shown the door after the Warriors slumped to a sixth straight loss - last year's storming run to the grand final under then coach Ivan Cleary now all but a distant memory.
With largely the same squad, there was genuine belief the Warriors could go one better this year, but instead they'll be watching their television sets in Auckland during the business end of the season.
''It's been a tough time, we've had a lot of support and expectation from last year's achievements,'' Iro said.
''We've let a lot of people down - family, friends but especially the people that support us. I think sometimes in situations like that, the pressure is released a little bit.
''When you are going through a tough run sometimes you can try too hard, and when a situation unfolds like it did [this week], there's a bit of a release in the pressure.''
While the Dragons are also out of finals contention after losing their past three matches, they will be hoping to send two of their most loyal servants out as winners.
''It's a fitting way for both of us to go after everything we've been through,'' Hornby said. ''I'd like to think [it would be a full house].
''Both of us have given all we had to this club.''