St George Illawarra coach Paul McGregor has confirmed rookie Drew Hutchison will go back to reserve grade and veteran Benji Marshall will be granted a farewell on Saturday.
A controversial call-up to the NRL following the axing of Marshall last week, Hutchison was solid in a try-scoring season debut in Monday’s loss to Parramatta.
McGregor was keen to see how his 21-year-old project would handle the step-up in competition, however his highlights reel will show plenty of his touches came behind a badly beaten forward pack.
And while Hutchison put his 95-kilogram frame to good use with a powerful individual try from close range in the first half, McGregor believes he learnt how much more improvement is required.
“It was good for Drewy to get a game. He knows how hard it is and how much work he needs to do, and he’s got plenty of time to do that before next season,” McGregor said.
“He’s a bit tired in the shed there, as expected. He played 80 minutes and hasn’t played it for quite some time.
“He’s only young. He’ll work hard in the pre-season and get plenty of opportunity going forward.”
Dragons captain Gareth Widdop liked what he saw from his possible future halves partner, especially given they had planned to give him the lion’s share of the general play kicking.
“You want to back his ability and he’s a great kicker of the football,” Widdop said.
“I think we saw tonight a few good kicks from Drew. And we like to use people’s strengths. You’ve got to back yourself and he did that.”
Former Kangaroos and NSW State of Origin No.7 Andrew Johns said it was too early to tell whether Hutchison had what it takes to become an established halfback.
“He’s a steady player. To me he doesn’t look like a halfback. He looks like a back-rower. He’s done some nice things, but moving forward it’s up to him how hard he works,” Johns told Triple M.
The Dragons play their final game of the regular season against Newcastle on Saturday.