Drew Hutchison will make his club debut for the Roosters against the Panthers.
Drew Hutchison will make his club debut for the Roosters against the Panthers.

Roosters playmaker to end 1014-day wait for NRL return

DREW Hutchison will end a 1014-day wait for an NRL return when he lines up for the Sydney Roosters against Penrith at Panthers Stadium on Sunday.

It's been a long time between drinks for the former St George Illawarra player who was once earmarked as the Dragons' next long-term halfback.

The 24-year-old was a star in the junior grades, playing for the NSW under 20s and Junior Kangaroos.

He made four sporadic NRL appearances for the Dragons but spent most of the start of his senior career toiling away in reserve grade for the Illawarra Cutters with whom he won NSW Cup and State Championship titles in 2016.

The 2017 season was meant to be Hutchison's breakout year in the Red V where he was in line to take over from Benji Marshall at halfback, but a training mishap in the pre-season saw him suffer an ACL injury, ruling him out for the year.

During the young playmaker's time on the sidelines, the Dragons went out and signed Ben Hunt on a marquee deal, which left the Hutchison at a crossroads.

Determined to rebuild his career, the Albion Park junior signed a deal with Leigh Centurions in England which allowed him to mature and further develop his game.

Hutchison returned to Australia at the end of 2018, and it was then he started searching for an NRL club.

Drew Hutchison was a star in Dragons’ junior grades. Picture: Brett Costello
Drew Hutchison was a star in Dragons’ junior grades. Picture: Brett Costello

"I was kind of looking around for a long time for a club and a week or two before Christmas, I actually approached the Roosters and asked them if I could join the club on a train and trial deal," Hutchison told the South Coast Register in March.

"It gave me seven weeks to put my best foot forward and try and secure a position in the squad.

"I've never really been in that position before where I've had to train for my career, as every day your being watched.

"It was a different feeling and not one I'm used to but it really forced me to bring my best effort to training each and every day, which thankfully saw me secure my spot.

"This is a step in the right direction for me but it certainly isn't the end goal."

Since earning a contract, Hutchison has been working hard towards that goal of another NRL berth, his first since Round 25, 2016.

Drew Hutchison kicked the winning field goal to seal a NSW Cup final win for the Illawarra Cutters in 2016. Picture. Brett Costello
Drew Hutchison kicked the winning field goal to seal a NSW Cup final win for the Illawarra Cutters in 2016. Picture. Brett Costello

This year he's made 10 appearances for the Roosters' feeder club North Sydney, scoring two tries, while laying on four more.

Hutchison will now finally achieve his goal at the expense of Luke Keary who has been sidelined for up to six weeks due to concussion concerns.

And standing at 187cm and weighing 97kg, he'll be one of the biggest playmakers in the competition.

"We've often said: 'When one goes down, the next one comes up'," Roosters assistant Adam O'Brien told the club website.

"It is a good reward for Drew. He's done some good things for the Bears. He's done some really good things in pre-season and in our training here.

"That's what you get. If you're willing to work really hard with your training and be consistent with your training then often the rewards will come your way."

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