Andrew McCullough didn’t want to leave Brisbane, but the new Dragon had to put his financial future first.
Andrew McCullough insists he wasn‘t pushed out of Brisbane and only left to secure his long-term future under former Broncos coach Anthony Griffin at St George Illawarra.
McCullough has reunited with Griffin on the three-year deal at the Dragons, but says it wasn’t an easy decision to leave the Broncos after 13 seasons.
In the end, he had to put his financial security ahead of his desire to remain at Brisbane.
“I guess it was a bit of a drawn-out process because it all came down to my decision if I wanted to go or not,” said McCullough, who made his Dragons debut with a 20-minute stint against Parramatta last weekend.
“I wasn’t getting pushed out or told to leave. Kevie (Walters) wanted me to stay, so that is what made it so difficult with my head and my heart and what I wanted to do.
“But I had to put all that aside and think about a bit of security for myself and my partner.
“I had to block everything externally out and just worry about what I had to do for my family.”
McCullough also went out of his way to refute claims that Cameron McInnes’ season-ending knee injury made it easier to join the Dragons knowing he would secure the starting No.9 jumper.
“No, not at all,” he said.
“It (joining the Dragons) wasn’t based on anyone else’s decision or circumstances.
“It is a sad one for Cameron and he has done a tremendous job here. You can see how well respected he is.
“But my decision didn’t have anything to do with that (McInnes) situation.”
McCullough said the lure of joining forces with former Brisbane teammates Ben Hunt, Corey Norman, and Jack Bird.
He believes he can play some of his best football alongside players he knows, on and off the field.
“Making that decision makes it a little but easier there,” he said.
“My head and my heart were fighting about leaving my comfort zone, but that comfort zone was made a little bit easier with Hook, Norman, Jack Bird, and a few other guys that I’ve dealt with over the years.
“Familiar faces when you are going somewhere new helps, so certainly – no regrets.
“If I hadn’t made the move to Newcastle (on loan) it would have been a bit more daunting.”
McCullough is particularly excited about his partnership with Dragons halfback Hunt.
The pair went within seconds of helping Brisbane win the 2015 NRL premiership, so they have a strong connection.
“The understanding (with Ben) won’t take long,” McCullough said.
“We know each other’s wants and needs at certain parts of the time and we can have a chat on the run how certain things are going.
“Having that familiarity will help with Benny, Norman and Hook, who is a straight shooter in terms of my role in the team.”
Hunt is equally enthused about McCullough’s arrival at the Dragons, declaring the duo can reclaim their brilliant best from the Brisbane days.
“We’ve played well in the past and it was a good combination so hopefully we can get back to that,” Hunt said.
“I think it will evolve over time and take a few matches to get going again, but it is great to have Macca back.
“We played a few years together at the Broncos and he brings an experienced head to the club.
“He has played a lot of games and he knows what it takes to win football games and train professionally.”