Mary praises Dragons' new premiership winner
St George Illawarra coach Paul McGregor said the opportunity to bring an "outsider" on to his coaching staff in former Cowboys premiership-winning assistant coach Jason Demetriou was too good to refuse.
With Demetriou predominately focused on the Cowboys' attack for the past 12 months, working with the likes of Johnathan Thurston and Lachlan Coote, McGregor remains hopeful his side will improve in attack – a facet they struggled with at times in 2015.
Demetriou's arrival – or return considering he is a local junior – came with Peter Mulholland and Robert Finch's departure from the club.
It allowed assistant coach Ian Millward to take up post as the Dragons' Director of Rugby League Pathways in 2016, a position previously held by Finch.
"For me to talk to Ian about that, and for him to want to do that, was a good opportunity to bring an outsider into our midst, especially one which won the competition at the Cowboys," McGregor told NRL.com.
"For us it means new ideas, it's fresh and clean. He has no ties to the club except he was a Hurstville junior which is good, we like looking after our own.
"He was the Cowboys attacking coach last year and we struggled a little bit in that area due to a few things but mainly for us coaches now it's about getting new and fresh ideas."
Demetriou, who will double as the Illawarra Cutters' coach in NSW Cup, comes to the Dragons with plenty of experience.
A Wakefield Wildcats legend and a past Man of Steel nominee in his own right, the 40-year-old's Australian coaching career began in 2013 at Intrust Super Cup outfit Northern Pride.
Winning both the premiership and NRL State Championship at the Pride the next season, Demetriou was promoted to Paul Green's Cowboys coaching staff in 2015.
McGregor said he has kept tabs on Demetriou's progress over the past 18 months and was of the understanding they shared similar ideologies when it came to the Dragons' future.
"We had spoken three or four times over the phone and he interviewed very well with me. Obviously he went through a three-prong process with the interviews and he spoke exactly the way I was thinking about different things," McGregor said.
"He certainly gave me some new ideas in our discussions which were good. I did a background check obviously with the players he'd coached in the past, and everything was positive.
"It was hard to find a negative and for someone like that at 40 who is familiar with the competition, it all added up. It's a fresh approach for us going into the New Year getting a new coach so late."
From Demetriou's perspective, it didn't take long to convince him that McGregor was one man he'd definitely be able to work alongside.
"I had a couple of conversations with Paul over Christmas time. After speaking to him I knew he was the right guy I wanted to work with and the roster they have here, any coach would want to work with them," Demetriou said.
"It was a tough decision, because I obviously had a lot of success with the Cowboys but I thought it was the right move for my family and I."
"My focus was on the attack [in North Queensland] and it's the same here. We spoke a lot about doing the simple things well; it wasn't about reinventing the wheel. Rather it was about being good at what we do.
"That came with understanding our roles and executing it really well. It is early days [at the Dragons] but what I do know is there's a lot of talent in this team and there's plenty of points in them too."
Returning to Jubilee Oval for the first time in 17 years, Demetriou looked back on his time in the area fondly after playing with the Hurstville United "Struggos".
"I was just saying before the last time I was here was a local league grand final back in '99, we won it so I have some good memories here," he said.
"Hopefully I'll win some more games here this year."