League great Andrew Johns has praised Anthony Griffin’s ‘old school’ tactics that have ‘simplified’ St George-Illawarra’s playing style.

League great Andrew Johns has lauded new coach Anthony Griffin’s ‘old school’ tactics that have ‘simplified’ St George-Illawarra’s playing style, while conceding his predictions for the club were way off the mark this season.

“I actually saw Josh Kerr (Dragons forward) near my place and we had a chat,” he said on Wide World of Sports’ Immortal Behaviour.

“He said ”Hook’ is old school he coaches the real effort areas and is quite simple’. But he’s got them playing for him.”

After being smashed by South Sydney in the Charity Shield and beaten by Cronulla in round one, the Dragons have gone on a four-game winning streak, shocking Parramatta with a 26-12 upset victory at Bankwest Stadium in Round Four.

NRL Highlights: The Dragons too good for the Eels at Bankwest.

The Dragons proved their mental make up as a team this year is completely different against the Eels as Griffin’s men overcame 10 six-again calls and the sin-binning of second-rower Tariq Sims to still walk away with a dominant victory.

It’s a remarkable and turnaround for a team that won only seven games last year under the guidance of club great Paul McGregor, who failed to get the best out of his players since being appointed head coach in 2014.

“He’s simplified the way they’re playing and its probably just that different voice,” Johns added. “Sometimes you need a different voice. Paul McGregor did a great job.

“He had been there for a while they sort of looked a little bit stale but the style of play they’re playing now… they’re playing so physical. So tough and you can see how much they’re loving playing.”

Griffin was unceremoniously dumped by Penrith only two years ago and coached the Broncos for four seasons before that. While many leading voices in the game cast doubt on his impact on the modern game, the unheralded coach has instilled a toughness to the Saints nobody expected, including Johns.

Bird gets the Dragons on the board

The League immortal said the Saints are also injury-free which helped their aggressive style, but questioned whether the club could maintain consistency as the season goes on.

“How long they can sustain this physical style of play it’s going to be the big challenge for them. They’ve got no injuries at the moment which helps.

“I thought they were wooden spooners for sure. I thought he’d be the first coach to get sacked. I think a lot of people were after the Charity Field when they got absolutely smashed. He’s doing such a great job.”

Along with the likes of Matt Dufty, Jack Bird, Ben Hunt, Andrew McCullough and Corey Norman, fiery forward Sims has been arguably the most dominant edge forward in the game over the opening month, according to Johns.

“Tariq Sims in that game in Newcastle. I remember when he burst onto the scene with the Cowboys.

“Then he had a real bad break on his leg and he sort of plateaued a bit. But he’s back to that form where he is almost Tallis-like.

“Paul Vaughan he’s improved out of sight. Matt Dufty looks like a different player. Corey Norman as well.”

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