Former Dragons playmaker Nathan Fien has backed under fire coach Steve Price to remove doubts about his future by delivering a successful start to the NRL season.
After missing the finals in his past two campaigns in charge of St George Illawarra, the spotlight has again turned on Price following disappointing performances in the Auckland Nines and Charity Shield.
The club was then forced to stand down young hooker Craig Garvey over a violent incident at Wollongong's Hotel Illawarra last week.
Fien, a key part of he Dragons 2010 premiership triumph who retired from the NRL at the end of last season, is starting his own coaching career with Coal League club Thirroul.
The Kiwi international declared Price would continue to believe he is the man to take the club back to the top eight.
"I'm sure if Pricey just backs his own ability, doesn't get distracted by the calls [for his sacking] and just focuses on what he needs to do he can come out the other side," Fien said.
"It doesn't matter if you're Tim Sheens or Wayne Bennett, there's always pressure to perform...that's part of the NRL.
"I'm sure Pricey will be hoping the boys can get off to a really good start and put all that to bed, but at this stage of the year there's always going to be speculation."
"You just need to control what you can control and Pricey's job is to try and get the Dragons to perform as best they can week in week out."
With a new look squad, featuring star five-eighth Gareth Widdop, the Dragons are out to silence doubters in their round one clash with the West Tigers on Sunday, the battle in the coach's box looms as an interesting subplot.
Price and Mick Potter need impressive starts to the season to ease the considerable pressure on their jobs after enduring strikingly similar 2013 seasons.
Both dealt with mid-season issues which results in Jamie Soward leaving the Dragons and Benji Marshall heading for the exit at the Tigers.
In the lead up to round one both have suffered injury setbacks they could little afford.
The Auckland Nines claimed young five-eighth Curtis Sironen with a foot injury and Josh Dugan injured his knee in the Charity Shield.
The instability has been reflected in betting markets with sportsbet.com.au revealing double the amount of bets on the Tigers ($4.25) to run last than for any other side with the Dragons the second most backed at $6.
Despite the dire predictions, former Fien certainly isn't writing off his former side just yet.
"I think they probably would have liked to have done a little bit better in their preseason games but at the end of the day the points aren't on offer in those matches," Fien said.
"From a players point of view, you're just trying to get through as unscathed as possible because they want to be hitting their peak on Sunday afternoon when they run out gainst the Tigers.
"I think it's going to take a little bit of time but they've definitely got some star players there who can do some good things.
"Whether it's going to be enough this year only time will tell but I'm definitely not writing them off at the moment."