McGregor excited by new crop

RUGBY LEAGUE

As one of the club's great centres, new Dragons assistant coach Paul McGregor's first task is rebuilding the backline attack without Matt Cooper and Mark Gasnier.

But for a man touted by many as potentially a future NRL coach, McGregor admits he struggles to see himself involved with any other NRL club.

"This is the only club for me," said McGregor, the ex-Steelers and 1999 grand final Dragons player.

"I don't think I could coach against this club.

"Every day here is a good day and I don't think I could have that passion somewhere else.

"I'm red and white."

That commitment is the result of 124 games for the Illawarra Steelers and a further 34 for the St George Illawarra joint venture.

The man known as Mary is glad to be back in the first grade fold following two years at the helm of the Illawarra Cutters.

"It's good to have a group of men from the start of the week to the end of the week," McGregor said.

"It's been difficult the last couple of years only having guys late in the week, if at all, until game day so the structure change from the Cutters to first grade is a real positive thing for me."

His two-decade association with the club also qualifies him to speak about the significance of a recruitment drive unprecedented in the club's history.

"It's been a long time coming but it's a necessity out of age," McGregor said.

"A lot of the guys have retired and when you get retirements you get fresh people in.

"We've been lucky enough to pick up an experienced player like Gareth Widdop from Melbourne who I'm really excited to be coaching.

"Then you've got guys like [Joel] Thompson and company with the experience they bring.

"But we are a very young side. Our average age is 22½ so it's a rebuilding stage for the club but an exciting stage, because if these guys in the next couple of years keep developing there's a lot to look forward to.

"Hopefully we'll get a few things right this year and supporters will see some exciting, attacking football."

McGregor, a veteran of 14 State of Origins and three Tests, hopes to leave his mark on the developing backline that has lost Gasnier and Cooper among a host of retirements in recent seasons.

"The experience Craig [Young] and I do bring from a senior level, these players would probably have seen a bit of that,' McGregor said.

"Our tutoring to these guys is very important, particularly at such a young age.

"If you've got good up-and-coming players who can gain some experience off some people who've been there and been through it before, it's only going to benefit them."

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