Dragons job McGregor's sole mission

Paul McGregor at WIN Stadium after signing on as St George Illawarra coach for the next three years. Picture: CHRISTOPHER CHAN

Paul McGregor at WIN Stadium after signing on as St George Illawarra coach for the next three years. Picture: CHRISTOPHER CHAN

RUGBY LEAGUE

Paul McGregor would have been lost to the NRL had the St George Illawarra board passed him over, such is his devotion to the club he captained in its inaugural season.

Dragons chief executive Peter Doust ended months of speculation over the role when on Friday he announced the joint venture would maintain the faith in McGregor for the next three years.

It caps a meteoric rise for the 46-year-old - who was a casualty of 2010 premiership-winning coach Wayne Bennett's clean out of the club in 2008 - but recalled into the fold this year as assistant to Steve Price.

Bennett was close to a return before an 11th-hour decision to return home to Brisbane and coach the Broncos.

The Dragons also considered approaches to Australian coach Tim Sheens and current interim Titans coach Neil Henry but opted for McGregor on the back of overwhelming support from players and fans.

McGregor conceded he lacked experience compared to other candidates but said his passion for the club was something no other candidate could bring.

"I wouldn't have looked at any other avenues of coaching," McGregor said. "I wouldn't have put myself in this position with any other club because this club means everything to me. It's given me a lot in my life and it's about time I gave my experience back to the club.

"A huge part of my drive has been to get the club back to where it needs to be and I wouldn't have had that same drive with anyone else. I was never going to leave.

"You can look at other experienced coaches out there and you can question whether they're a better coach but what they can't bring, and what is unquestionable, is the commitment and the passion and the desire I have for this club."

McGregor reluctantly stepped into the role after Price's sacking in May - saying he had never harboured a desire to be an NRL head coach - but said the response from the Dragons players and fans over his 12-week stint as interim coach convinced him to put his hand up for the role long term.

"I think the responses I've got from the players, the responses I've got from the fans and all the work that's been put into the last 12 weeks and the results that have followed [convinced me]," McGregor said.

"I wouldn't be in this position if the players didn't put in and work hard from where they were 1-7 at a period of time through the year. I wouldn't be standing here now if it wasn't for them.

"When you do get an opportunity to coach at this level you get a quick understanding of whether or not you can comfortably coach at this level. Looking at the club from the inside, work needs to be done and I want to be a part of that work.

"That won't stop. One thing I've got is a very good work ethic and I've had that my whole life."

He said his long-term plans won't affect the more immediate concern of getting the Dragons to this year's finals.

"We've still got a season to finish here and that's at the forefront; that's the most important thing," McGregor said.

"I'm haven't been distracted from that and I don't want to be yet."

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