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Cameron McInnes gave Paul McGregor the soggy, sodden shirt off his own back because in his eyes the Dragons captain owes his outgoing coach everything.

And the Red V leader is already cashing in a favour with his successor Dean Young, with McInnes to miss Young's first training session as Dragons coach on Monday to be at the birth of his second child.

McInnes was front and centre of the emotional aftermath to McGregor's last outing on Friday night, embracing the 52-year-old once a stirring upset of Parramatta was secured.

McGregor joined his team for an all-too rare rendition of 'When the Saints go marching in' underneath the Bankwest Stadium stands, with McInnes presenting his own playing jersey to the coach – a gesture McGregor described as "one of the best presents I've ever got in my life".

"I wanted to say something after the game," McInnes said.

"I had a think about it yesterday and what I could give him.

"He's not much of a gifts man. But I wanted to show how much he means to me as a person.

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"He gave me my first jersey at the club, and the last time I played under him I wanted him to have my last jersey with him as my coach.

"I'm glad it meant something to him because it meant a lot to me.

"I got pretty emotional when I came off the field. Obviously I wanted to pay my respects to Parramatta, but as soon as the whistle went I wanted to get over to Mary and give him a hug.

"It was an emotional and special moment. I'm grateful we could send him off the right way."

McInnes has been a rock for the Red V throughout a tumultuous 18 months, McGregor's scalp finally claimed during the week after a record-equalling 151 games in charge of the joint-venture.

The former Rabbitoh says the life he leads now in Wollongong – with a second bub for he and partner Rachel on the way – is thanks to McGregor.

"The thing about Mary is he always had faith and belief in me," McInnes said.

"Even at a time when others probably didn't as much, he still wanted to bring me to the club after '16 when they hadn't had a great year.

"I'm sure Dragons fans were probably asking 'why are you moving Mitch Rein on and bringing this kid in that's not even playing at Souths?'

"But Mary always stuck by me and I'll always be grateful for that because there probably weren't too many other opportunities for me, definitely not to be a starting player.

"There's no chance that would've happened, so I owe him pretty much everything and the way my life has turned out since I came to the Dragons.

"My partner and I are engaged, we've bought a house, we have a baby, we have a little girl due on Monday… I'll always be grateful to him."

McGregor reflects on emotional farewell

Young will take charge as interim Dragons coach to start the week with six games to state his case for the job full-time.

McInnes has already earned a leave pass from the 2010 premiership-winner to be by Rachel's side.

In 2018 it was McGregor again who pulled strings to have her first childbirth inducement delayed by 24 hours – at no risk to her or son Talanoa – so McInnes could juggle an Anzac Day clash with the Roosters and still make the birth.

McInnes sees the same commitment to his players in Young's coaching approach.

So too the toughness that kept him playing for much of his career on one leg following a debilitating golden staph infection, with Young becoming one of the Dragons' favourite sons in the process.

Getting the best out of million-dollar man Ben Hunt – be it in the halves or at hooker – looms as a critical litmus test for Young, with McInnes also drawn into the debate given his own role goes hand-in-hand with that process.

Much like Young's own playing days, the 26-year-old has transitioned between hooker and lock in recent times, but McInnes said sorting out his own positional future is not a priority for him.

"I don't have a preferred position now. Hooker or lock I am prepared to play both," McInnes said.

"If it works, Ben Hunt is a great hooker and if it works he plays hooker and I play lock for the Dragons.

"That's what I'll do. I'm not trying to do cliches or anything like that, I just enjoy lock as much as I do hooker.

"I don't know if that's a good or bad thing for the team but that's what I'll do and do it to the best I can."

Acknowledgement of Country

St George Illawarra Dragons respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders peoples, where our games are played, our programs are conducted and in the communities we support.

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