Drew Hutchison hasn’t wasted any time trying to land Benji Marshall’s No.7 jersey at St George Illawarra, with the youngster to play in a reserve grade grand final on Sunday.
The 21-year-old is currently the only halfback left on the Dragons’ roster after Marshall departed when the club fell well short of the NRL finals this year.
Hutchison was solid in his sole NRL appearance late this season, but is looking to further press his claims in the Illawarra Cutters’ NSW Intrust Super Cup decider against Mounties.
“I’ll always be going out there to do my best, not so much impress, but put your best foot forward for selection in first grade,” Hutchison said on Monday.
The Dragons last week signed South Sydney discard Cameron McInnes, who departed Redfern following the arrival of unwanted Wests Tigers star Robbie Farah.
However they remain without a bona fide playmaker to partner captain Gareth Widdop in the halves – a role Hutchison is intent on filling over the summer.
“I’ve got my full focus on the Cutters for this year, it’s my main priority,” Hutchison said.
“But I’ll be going into next year with hopefully a premiership under my belt and plenty of excitement of starting first grade next year.”
After playing three games in his debut season in 2015, Hutchison made his one appearance for the Dragons in 2016 following the controversial axing of Marshall in round 25.
An Illawarra local, Hutchison now has eyes on fulfilling his potential in the top grade.
“It was like a little entree, wasn’t it?” he said of his one game this year.
“You get that taste, but it has made me hungry to want to be out there every week to do that.
“Obviously I’ve had mixed emotions, being stuck in reserve grade the whole year and then you get your NRL chance. But to be leading your team into a grand final this weekend, it’s a good way to cap it off.”