Former prisoner helps Bennett's men toughen their defence

Former prisoner helps Bennett's men toughen their defence - 3rd October 2010
(The Sydney Morning Herald)

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Mick Cutajar My Judo NRL Judo Martial Arts Sports

A CAGE fighter who shared a jail cell with Ivan Milat is the secret to St George Illawarra's impenetrable defensive line.

Former Long Bay inmate Mick Cutajar, who did time for a bungled armed robbery, was enlisted as Wayne Bennett's wrestling coach at the start of the season.

Bennett, who has long been a critic of the grapple tackle, was so impressed with Cutajar's contribution that he recently signed a certificate of appreciation for the renowned judo instructor.

Bennett asked his staff to scour the land for martial-arts experts in the off season to give his 2010 campaign an edge. They settled upon Cutajar, one of Australian sport's most colourful personalities.

Cutajar has turned his life around and the Dragons into the NRL's most feared defensive unit. In an average game, the joint-venture club leads the league for least points conceded (12), tries conceded (2.1), line breaks conceded (3.2) and missed tackles (26.5).Cutajar explained how his tackling techniques have helped the Dragons progress through to today's grand final against the Roosters.

''I developed a method where Dragons players, once they had the opposition on the ground, they could use their hip pivots to get up in one motion,'' he said.

''It slows down the play-the-ball and gives you more time to get back into the line. That meant [the attacking player] had to physically get up, turn around and face the other way to play the ball.''

The other big adjustment was the moment of impact itself.

''It's about using your hips instead of brute force to get people down.''

The technique also reduced injury, Cutajar said.