Matt McIlwrick takes on the Broncos earlier this year.

McIlwrick set to play crucial role

He is not named in any grade but Roosters utility Matt McIlwrick is set to play in either a preliminary final or a grand final by week's end. 

His opponents are dependent on whether co-captain Mitchell Pearce is passed fit to play.

While the Roosters halfback has declared himself a certain-starter for this Friday night's preliminary final against the Broncos, if Pearce fails to recover from his hamstring injury it's likely McIlwrick will come into the team to play in front of a packed Suncorp Stadium.

 

If Pearce does play, McIlwrick will instead play in the NSW Cup grand final on Sunday for the Wyong Roos alongside fellow Roosters first-graders Willie Manu and Suaia Matagi as they prepare for their local derby against the Newcastle Knights.

"It's pretty exciting times for me. I managed to play my first finals footy game last weekend and now with Wyong making the grand final either way it goes I won't be complaining that's for sure," McIlwrick told NRL.com.

"Your preparation is always the same no matter what you play, nothing changes in that regard.

"It is tough sometimes not knowing whether you're going to play first grade or NSW Cup but this weekend if Mitchell is right then I'll be excited to play in the grand final for Wyong.

"There is a great group of boys playing for Wyong and us Roosters love going back there and playing for them. Everyone plays for each other and everyone plays for coach Rip Taylor, he's pretty old school and gets the boys fired up every weekend. 

"If Wyong manage to win on the weekend, and the Roosters make the grand final, then they'll both be playing on the last day of the season which will be an awesome achievement for the club."

After receiving somewhat of a culture shock upon his arrival to Sydney from the Canberra Raiders, McIlwrick credits Roosters coach Trent Robinson for helping him find his identity in the game this season.

While his future is very much still in the air, McIlwrick is content in knowing that hooker is the position for him despite also being known as a lock. 

"I was always unsure of what I preferred or what I was better at. Robbo has just definitely instilled in me that I'm definitely a hooker. Now I'm confident in that role now and I know what kind of player I am and want to be," McIlwrick said. 

"The future can hopefully be pretty bright and I can take that into wherever I go or whatever game I play. Don't get me wrong I love playing lock but I've learnt more a lot as a hooker and playing around these kind of guys has been an unbelievable experience and I'll always cherish that."