McGregor gets shot at NRL title window

St George Illawarra have re-signed NRL coach Paul McGregor until the end of 2021.
St George Illawarra have re-signed NRL coach Paul McGregor until the end of 2021.

Paul McGregor has been given the chance to finish the job he had begun five years ago at St George Illawarra after earning a two-year contract extension from the NRL club.

The Dragons confirmed on Thursday that McGregor would stay until at least the end of 2021, putting to bed any speculation about the mentor's future.

The deal will make McGregor the most-capped coach in Dragons history, pre or post-merger, but more importantly, it will give him a full shot at the club's title window.

Finalists last season after leading the competition for most of the year, McGregor has built a roster full of representative players since taking over in 2014.

And with the majority of the squad in the prime of their careers, the next three seasons shape as the time to strike.

"Every club, unless you are a club that has had success recently, takes time to build," McGregor said.

"You've got to enjoy the process of it all - you've got to have a vision. And we're working really hard to continue to do what we're doing, which is having a good year.

"We're fortunate now to have a real stable environment around the workplace. At times, coaches don't get the time to do that."

Meticulous in his approach, the Dragons' coach lowered contact workloads at training this campaign to try to rectify late-season issues.

He's brought on a sports psychologist as an adviser and has also picked up Corey Norman as an early replacement for the departing Gareth Widdop.

"Paul's retention has come down to more than just the football played on the field," Dragons CEO Brian Johnston said.

"Paul is a values-driven, team-first individual who is at the forefront of personal development for both he and his players.

"Paul's emotional intelligence and man management attributes are key to him being well respected throughout the playing group and the club's staff in its entirety, which is another crucial reason for his extension."

McGregor has coached the Dragons in 118 games for 60 wins and should surpass Nathan Brown's mark of 151 matches in charge of the joint-venture by the end of next year.

Roy Masters coached the Red V for 162 games before the club's merger with Illawarra - another figure McGregor should go beyond.

"I've always had a strong passion for the club I played for and the club I coached. I get real enjoyment out of what I do day to day," McGregor said.

"It's got a strong history. A lot of people in the past have done so much to put the club where it is today.

"I just want to continue on the tradition of working hard to leave the place in a better place than when I found it."

Australian Associated Press