Former Dragons coach Paul McGregor joins Brad Fittler’s NSW Origin program as an assistant

Former St George Illawarra Dragons coach Paul McGregor has joined the NSW Blues Origin program as an assistant, replacing Cronulla-bound Craig Fitzgibbon.

McGregor will reunite with former NSW roommate turned Blues coach Brad Fittler.

The Dragons and Illawarra great replaces fellow Steelers legend Fitzgibbon, who stood down after three years as an assistant coach alongside Danny Buderus and advisor Greg Alexander to take on the head coaching role at the Sharks for three years from 2022.

McGregor, who played 14 games for NSW from 1992-98 alongside Fittler, had already been brought into the Blues coaching ranks earlier this year as NSW Under 19s coach before their match was cancelled due to Covid-19.

Paul Mcgregor (ball) during third 1995 State of Origin game, New South Wales (NSW) v Queensland, at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane. 
Sport/ Rugby League / Action
Camera IconPaul McGregor played 14 State of Origins for the Blues between 1992-1998. Credit: News Corp Australia

The man nicknamed ‘Mary’ is excited to return to the Origin arena as a coach after bleeding for the Blues as a player.

“It’s a huge honour,” McGregor said.

“After representing the Blues right through the 90s as a player and now to be on the coaching staff … I have a lot of gratitude and appreciation around that.

“I have a lot of passion for the game and perseverance as well. I believe I have gained Freddy’s trust and earned his loyalty over time. In his first year coaching the Blues (2018) he took a lot of my (Dragons) players into the series and they won.

“It’s important to me to influence his vision on the team and I will do that with purpose.”

Fittler said he had always admired McGregor as a player and was impressed with what he had done as a coach.

“Obviously it is disappointing to lose Craig Fitzgibbon, who made such a valuable contribution to our group over the past three years, but to replace him with someone of the calibre and experience of Paul McGregor is outstanding,” Fittler said.

“I have been fortunate to have played with ‘Mary’ and roomed with him during the early 90s playing State of Origin and he will fit perfectly within the culture of our group, as well as adding immense value in what he can bring as an astute coach.

“He is really passionate about the game and NSW.”

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