Coach aiming for top form in Cutters clash

RUGBY LEAGUE 

Illawarra Cutters coach Paul McGregor will impress on his players the importance of a satisfactory start in their final trial match against North Sydney at TG Milner Field today.

While the Cutters have won their two previous trials against Windsor and Canterbury-Bankstown, McGregor was less than impressed with their start against the Bulldogs, who jumped out to a 16-0 lead in the first quarter.

The Cutters then dominated the next 60 minutes, running out 30-22 winners at Belmore Sports Ground.

Today's match against the Bears will be the Cutters' last hit-out before round one of the 2013 NSW Cup competition, when they host premiers Newtown at WIN Stadium on Saturday, March 9.

"What we'll be looking at this week is a good start to the game, work through our sets and start to get in the grinding game of footy, which is going to be needed going into round one of the competition," McGregor said.

"And do all the one per centers right.

"That's mainly what I'm looking for this week.

"I'm looking for people to work for each other off the ball and do the gritty stuff that's going to win games early in the year because, when you look at the start of competitions, it's not flashy teams that win.

"It's the teams that want to work for each other a bit harder than the other team, get through their sets, complete at a high completion rate, then turn field position into points," he said.

McGregor is far from settled on what his team will be to play the Jets in round one.

"Look, the hardest thing for me at this moment now is, I've got a capable part-time squad that can all handle NSW Cup.

"They'll get another opportunity to impress this weekend," he said.

"And from that, it's a great headache for a coach to have, which is depth within the place.

"So, it's a headache but it's a good headache."

McGregor said how players reacted to missing out on round one would be important because all would receive their chance during the season.

"Along the way, first grade [Dragons] are going to have injuries and we're certainly going to have injuries at different stages.

"We got one last week with Chris Astill who may need a knee reconstruction ... really disappointing because I thought he was our player of the year last year and he did get a coach's award.

"That's rugby league, unfortunately.

"When you pick a side, you look at people that've already played at this [NSW Cup] level and know what I'm about. But you can't disregard guys that've trained really well and have performed well in trials either, and have come down here to try and push their way into a first grade squad.

"That's the difficult thing about playing reserve grade. You've got to bide your time and wait for your opportunity to come.

"And once it comes, you don't let it slip."

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