State Championship: Cutters v Bears (Highlights)
Highlights of the 2016 State Championship match between NSW's Illawarra Cutters & QLD's Burleigh Bears
Drew Hutchison declared himself ready for the NRL after pulling the strings in Illawarra's 52-12 demolition of Burleigh in the NRL Interstate Championship at ANZ Stadium on Sunday.
The nuggety playmaker starred in the Cutters' nine tries-to-two rout, staking a claim for the vacant St George Illawarra No.7 jumper for the 2017 NRL season.
Following the departure of Benji Marshall, Dragons coach Paul McGregor is in need of a halves partner for Gareth Widdop. Hutchison already had his nose in front for the job and made a statement with a man-of-the match effort against a listless Bears outfit.
Hutchison and hooker Josh McCrone were outstanding, cutting up the Bears forwards in the middle of the field and controlling the game with their kicking.
The game was as good as over at halftime as the Cutters ran out to a 30-0 lead with Hutchison playing a leading hand.
Hutchison said while he had to do some fine-tuning he was ready fopr the step up.
"To be honest there's little things in my game I need to work on and I'll be working on that in the pre-season," he said.
"I'm hoping for a big year in 2017 and it's all up to me."
After claiming the club's first piece of silverware in the NSW Cup grand final last weekend, the Cutters became the first NSW champions to win the game in the three-year history of the concept.
The Bears were rarely in the game, coming up with simple errors and dropped ball and the few times they found themselves down Illawarra's end they turned it over cheaply.
The Queensland Cup premiers suffered a blow during the week when captain Jamie Dowling wasn't allowed to leave the state because of his conviction for drug offences, rubbing him out of the game.
Tries to Siliva Havili, Kurt Mann and Milne in the second half put an exclamation on Illawarra's win.
Asked if it was hard to get up for the game, having played a state grand final seven days earlier, Hutchison said: "To be honest Tuesday we rocked up and there wasn't much of an atmosphere.
"But on Thursday, we talked about rewarding everyone for the efforts they put in and it's been about 46 weeks that we've trained hard for this. We wanted to win this as much as anyone."