12 April 2022
as seen on https://home.nzcity.co.nz
Plenty of the Roosters’ NRLW side experienced a rollercoaster ride in 2022, but nobody rose from the depths quite like halfback Raecene McGregor.
McGregor, a two-time premiership winner with Brisbane and a seasoned New Zealand international, was without a club through much of the NRLW pre-season.
Despite the competition expanding to six teams, and with players of her talent in the halves hard to come by, no team managed to find room for the cunning halfback.
McGregor was resigned to missing out on the season before Roosters coach John Strange reached out to add her to his play-making stocks.
Courtesy of that last-minute chance, McGregor has now become the first player to win NRLW premierships with two different clubs after the Roosters’ 14-4 win over St George Illawarra in Redcliffe.
“Originally I thought I wasn’t going to get picked up. I hurt my shoulder last year, so I was going to miss some time, but Strangey called me up the day before All Stars. He just offered me an opportunity and I took it, and here I am now,” McGregor said.
“I knew the Roosters had a strong side. When he reached out I was really grateful, because I didn’t think they needed another ball-player.
“I knew they were already strong. But he still asked me, so it was awesome.
“For me, this is probably the best premiership. I really enjoyed the whole season, nobody made me uncomfortable coming in late.”
Like many of the Roosters, McGregor grew into form as the season went on.
Her two best performances of the year came in the preliminary final and the decider, with her experience and sharp kicking game shining through on the biggest stage.
The victory was just a little bittersweet given McGregor’s sister Page was playing in the centres for the Dragons, but to the victor goes the spoils.
McGregor’s big-match experience was crucial to the Roosters’ resurrection in recent weeks, with her composure helping them stay the course as the heat ramped up, especially on the season’s biggest day.
“That was one of the toughest games I’ve ever played in my life. It was so fast, I don’t think people understand how quick it was, and when we were down that early we had to dig deep to get the win,” McGregor said.
“We knew it was going to be physical, we knew we had to be aggressive, and especially after half-time, we had a chat in the sheds about how we had to come out tough.”
There will be no late start for McGregor for this year’s second season, which is expected to kick off in September.
She’s found a home at the Roosters and is desperate to stay, and the Tricolours would do well to make her a priority retention.
Her combination with wily five-eighth Zahara Temara will only improve given the Roosters have now had a taste of success.
“We just had to keep the noise out, focus on us and our own game. There was a few girls who got nervous, but we brought it all together,” McGregor said.
“This is my home now, so hopefully the Roosters want me back.
“I love playing with Z [Temara], being picked up by the Roosters was an opportunity to play with her, so I really appreciated it.”