Paul McGregor faces crunch time in NRL career

Paul McGregor at Dragons training on Tuesday. Picture: ADAM McLEAN

Paul McGregor at Dragons training on Tuesday. Picture: ADAM McLEAN

RUGBY LEAGUE

Without the shadow of Wayne Bennett hanging over him, Paul McGregor is preparing for the most important month of his NRL career.

McGregor is now the front runner for the Dragons job after the Broncos announced on Monday that they had lured their foundation coach back to Brisbane on a three-year $4 million deal, though Titans assistant Neil Henry could yet come into consideration.

Asked if Bennett's decision helped his cause, McGregor said: "You would think so." But he now faces the challenge of strengthening the Dragons' finals hopes and boosting his own prospects.

"The association needs to interview the best people for the job and if they see fit that I am the best person for the job then they'll interview me in time, " McGregor said, after Monday's loss to Manly.

"At the moment they're doing their rounds and obviously Wayne was part of that. He's made up his mind now.

"All I can do is look after the group that I'm in control of right now - that's this football team - and continue to do that. If the results fall that way they'll look at me as coach.

"Nothing much changes for me. I will turn up to work tomorrow and go again.

"My job at the moment is interim coach and working these guys pretty hard.

"We've got a six-day turnaround and we're working towards the Tigers this weekend."

Dragons chief executive Peter Doust confirmed on Monday that talks with Bennett were well advanced before the seven-time premiership winner phoned him over the weekend to inform him he would not take up a three-year deal with the club he coached to a premiership in 2010.

"I had a number of discussions with Wayne Bennett and it was clear that he was interested in returning to the Dragons but on the weekend he phoned me to say that he would be returning to Brisbane," Doust said.

Bennett on Tuesday said he hadn't considered a return to the Broncos until his former club recently approached him.

"As I was deciding on my future, the Brisbane Broncos weren't in the equation until the board recently contacted me," Bennett said.

"I never thought I would be presented with the opportunity to return home and I appreciate the confidence the [Brisbane] board and owners have shown in me."

He said he won't be making any further comment on his future until the end of the season.

McGregor said he was yet to sit down with Doust to formally discuss his future but made it clear it was his ambition to coach the club he skippered to a grand-final appearance in the joint venture's inaugural season.

"I really enjoy coaching this group and I would like to continue coaching this group," he said.

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