A lot of rugby league fans wouldn’t have heard the name Drew Hutchison before. The 21-year-old halfback has only played four first-grade games, he’s only won one game with St George Illawarra. And in 2017, Drew Hutchison will be forced to carry one of the most struggling attacks in all of the competition.
The young Dragon’s halfback is set to be given the first crack at the Red V’s number seven jersey vacated by Benji Marshall, with the two-time Junior Kangaroo set to be tasked with the job of reigniting the Dragon’s attack. Born and raised in Wollongong, Hutchison is a St George junior, coming through the club’s Holden Cup side, graduating to the NSW Cup side the Illawarra Cutters, who he won the 2016 NSW Cup and State Championship with.
One of Hutchison’s biggest attacking weapons, without a doubt, is his size. Weighing in at a whopping 95kg, four kilos heavier than nearest competitor Mitchell Pearce. His big frame will add a new dimension to the Red V’s attack, who only outscored one-win Newcastle by 36 points across the season. With Benji Marshall’s form flickering throughout 2016, fans will hope Hutchison can provide some stability to the side.
In a massive show of faith to the junior, the Dragons passed on the opportunity to sign out-of-favour Rooster’s half Jackson Hastings, who is set to spend 2017 playing for the Chook’s reserve grade side. Hastings spent the 2014 season with St George Illawarra’s Holden Cup side before switching to the club where his father Kevin ‘Horrie’ Hastings made his name.
One of Hutchison’s biggest tasks in 2017 will be to involve fullback Josh Dugan more so in the attack. Dugan came up with one try assist in 2016, in the final round of the season, which was his first assist since Round 4 of 2015. In the modern day, ball-playing is such a necessary skill in a fullback’s arsenal. Dugan’s strength, without doubt, is his running game, and while it does benefit the Dragon’s game, it leaves them lacking when it comes to putting points on the board.
Hutchison will start the season alongside club captain Gareth Widdop in the halves for the Red V, with the annual Charity Shield clash against South Sydney the first indicator of how the young halfback will fit into first-grade in 2017.