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Hunt may be switched to hooker as family draws Luke to Brisbane

St George Illawarra coach Paul McGregor hasn't ruled out the possibility of Ben Hunt spending time at dummy-half in Sunday's clash with Cronulla as Issac Luke finalises a move to Brisbane for family reasons.

Luke, who could play for the Broncos as soon as next week in place of injured hooker Jake Turpin, told NRL.com after joining the Dragons this season on a minimum wage deal that he viewed the move to Wollongong as a stepping stone to uniting his five children in Brisbane.

Luke sent a message of thanks and support to the Dragons via social media on Saturday.

"I'm extremely humbled to have been a part of the St George Illawarra Dragons during the preseason as well as playing a couple of games for them.

"With support from the club and their understanding they were happy to release me to take an opporunity in Brisbane where my family and I were going to live afer footy finished.

"Paul McGregor was understanding and as a reason that attracted me to the St George Illawarra club was Mary said this is a family club and they will always come first. He has been nothing but understanding and supportive in all that I've decided. I am forever grateful to have met Mary and I will miss him."

Discussions had been ongoing for two weeks and the Kiwi veteran will leave with McGregor's blessing as St George Illawarra captain Cameron McInnes has fully recovered from the leg injury that ended his 2019 season and sidelined him from the opening two rounds.

"Issac first came to the club to support Cameron," McGregor said.

"Cameron was coming off a badly broken leg from last year and Cameron wasn't available earlier in the season so the whole thought process about Issac joining the club was to be the back up to Cameron and play some interchange footy.

"We have still got Billy Brittain, we have got Benny Hunt who can play nine and obviously Cam, who is an 80-minute player."

Fullback Matt Dufty will replace Luke in the side to play the Sharks at Campbelltown Stadium, leaving Hunt as the back-up for McInnes if he needs a spell on the interchange.

"That could happen, yes. Ben is in our 17," McGregor said.

While Luke is leaving, McGregor took issue with reports that Dufty and rookie backs Tristan Sailor and Jason Saab wanted out after being overlooked for selection in matches this season.

He said 22-year-old Sailor, who was a promising junior at Wests Illawarra when McGregor coached the club's first-grade team, had been close to selection against the Sharks.

"I have known Tristan a lot longer than I have been first-grade coach and he has been in the first-grade system," McGregor said.

"He spoke to me and there is definitely no truth in that.

Dragons v Sharks - Round 5

"Tristan has been training very well the last two weeks and he has been in the conversation around playing this weekend. He needed to pick up his training and he has.

"I spoke to Jason and we have got a very good relationship. Matt Dufty has never been raised."

McGregor revealed he had spoken with St George Illawarra directors after an emergency meeting of the club's board on Tuesday backed him to remain as coach until the end of 2021, despite the team being yet to win a match this season.

He isn't to blame: Dragons players back McGregor

The Dragons could be considered unlucky to lose their opening two matches against Wests Tigers and Penrith but have not scored a try since the competition resumed two weeks ago, losing 18-0 the Warriors and 22-2 to Canterbury last Monday.

"I had a good conversation after they made their decision with some members of the board and it is just about now getting on with the job and we are expecting a win on the weekend," McGregor said.

"I am always thankful for their support, standing with me and the trust and belief they have in me."

Dragons insist on ‘no divide’ within the team

Asked if he had been set a target to win a certain number of games by a set date, McGregor said: "That wasn't raised. I asked that question to the board and there was no time frame or nothing about cost."

McGregor said the focus at training this week was on helping the players to regain confidence and relieving pressure.

"Sometimes when things aren't going right you want to over-coach," he said.

"We have only been on the park a couple of times so it is a lot less detail and more around some mental stamina and fixing some increments in our game.

"If we improve that and connect across the field better will improve us as a football team."