He was the kid who replaced Benji Marshall for one game, but now Drew Hutchison wants to take over for good.
Controversially called up in place of the axed veteran last week, Hutchison was solid without being spectacular in St George Illawarra’s loss to Parramatta on Monday night.
And while it will be his only NRL appearance of the season, given Marshall has been handed a farewell in Saturday’s final game against Newcastle, Hutchison is confident of solving the Dragons’ attacking woes.
Only the lowly Eels and Knights have scored fewer points than the Red V so far this year.
“Criticism of attack is warranted. We haven’t scored enough points this year and that’s it,” Hutchison said.
“My game, I play very straight and I’m a bigger body. So my running game (poses) a bit more of a threat. I reckon I could help with the team’s attack next year.”
The local junior admits that even though he’s enjoyed learning his craft in reserve grade, he’s been left frustrated by his lack of first grade opportunities since making his debut midway through last season.
But with the Dragons yet to sign an established playmaker since opting not to renew Marshall’s contract, Hutchison insists he is now ready to deliver on his potential.
“I genuinely hope that’s the case and I’ll be training very hard in the pre-season to do that,” he said.
“Obviously there’s other good players in the club that can play in the halves. I’ll definitely be trying my best to stay there and play with (five-eighth Gareth Widdop) next year.
“Hopefully I can be the starting No.7 next year.”
A former NSW State of Origin under-20s captain, Hutchison said he spent a lot of time learning at the feet of Marshall, who has 14 years in the game, including a premiership with Wests Tigers in 2005.
“He’s got the locker next to mine and we’re always talking to each other,” Hutchison said.
“Obviously he’s got a very good running game and he’s a smart player. He’s been around for over 10, 11 years now. I can always go to him for advice.
“When the team was first named I felt a bit sad, he’s been one of my idols growing up.
“He come up to me and give me a pat on the shoulder and said `no hard feelings’, and he’s going to help me through this week. He definitely did that and made it easy for me to go out there and play my own game.”