McGregor's jealously dulled by coaching involvement
The Anzac Day clash between the Dragons and Roosters has been a permanent fixture on the NRL calendar since 2002.
Unfortunately St George Illawarra coach – and club legend in his own right – Paul McGregor's retirement came just months earlier.
McGregor's jealously over missing the occasion however has been dulled by the fact he's been on the coaching staff for a fair chunk of the special fixtures since.
"When you look at your calendar you look towards this game as a player and as a staff member. I was fortunate to be on the field for a few of them running the messages and last year for the first time as coach," McGregor said.
"I really enjoyed that moment. It's a special day because it brings everyone together. To be able to play in it would have been a real special moment, unfortunately I wasn't able to do that. But as a staff member I get close to it.
"It's a special occasion. We are privileged to play on such an important day and it's a great chance to salute and honour the people who served and fell in the past," he added. "It's a real good opportunity for our guys to get out there and enjoy the moment."
Of the upcoming Anzac Day clash, McGregor said the Dragons have been sensational in their preparation.
Ending their three-week stint in Queensland with a 19-14 win over the Titans, McGregor has called his players to play without fear of consequence.
It's something they were perhaps guilty of in their scoreless defeats to North Queensland and Brisbane in the two weeks prior.
"Always getting it done is good because that's what you're judged on - your wins and losses. The most important thing is about competing in whole contests because if you do that it gives you the best chance to get that 'W' at the end of the game," McGregor said.
"When there's a lot of noise coming from outside, players tend to tighten up and think about too much instead of what they're good at, which is going out there and playing.
"It's about playing with that absence of fear because if you enjoy the contest it seems to go a lot quicker and the games are there to win."
McGregor has also given centre Euan Aitken (hamstring) until game day to prove his fitness.
"Euan's working towards playing. He had a really good run [on Friday] in rehab. He didn't run with the footy team but he got through about four kilometres which is important in the build up to it," he said.
"But I won't risk him if he's not right by Monday. He'll train with the side on Sunday but we have a six-day turnaround following that in New Zealand so if he's any risk he won't be playing."