It was only March 14 this year when I wrote about the Canberra Raiders sacking Josh Dugan following the infamous roof top drinking session with his partner in crime Blake Ferguson.
While Ferguson copped and find, a week in reserve grade and seemed to see the episode as a turning point in his career, Dugan just didn’t care. Dugan didn’t make any attempt to patch things up with Raiders management and the club sacked him, finally ridding themselves of all the trouble Dugan has caused them over the years.
It didn’t take too long before Dugan found himself a new club as the St George/Illawarra Dragons threw him a lifeline in a desperate attempt to turn their season around.
I can’t blame the Dragons. Dugan was available to sign and there is no doubt he has added a whole lot to their attack. I didn’t think the NRL would allow Dugan to play for another club again this season, and I have a feeling that under David Gallop’s watch, Dugan would have been watching on the sidelines for the rest of the season.
You can’t deny Dugans form at the Dragons so far this season has been very good. I do have a real concern though about how all of this has played out…
For some reason, Rugby League goes out of its way to embrace players that have off field issues. There is no redeeming factor about what Josh Dugan did to the Canberra Raiders, his former team mates, and the fans of the club. Yet you get the feeling that in general the game wanted Josh Dugan to be able to succeed?
Playing State Of Origin football should be a reward for a player. Obviously the balance between wanting to win and rewarding players is skewed, and for good reason. No one cares if a team is full of decent blokes if they are losing games.
Obviously you can’t punish players forever for poor behaviour, after all, people can change. We have seen some players who had gone off the rails early in their careers that have turned things around and been a great example to other players.
In this case though, Dugan completely screwed over the Canberra Raiders a matter of a couple of months ago. Since then Rugby League has rewarded him with a New South Wales jersey and soon, a rich contract extension.
I can’t be the only person that feel that is wrong.
Next Wednesday night if Josh Dugan is carving up Queensland, I’ll be cheering. I’ll be like any other NSW fan. I admit that. I’m not a Josh Dugan fan at all because of the way he has dudded Canberra Raiders supporters….and I’ll still cheer if he scores a try.
That is the reality of this entire situation. As long as Josh Dugan can prove talent to the game, the game will embrace him. That goes for any other player that wants to play up to disrespect any fan base. The game will forgive and forget in a split second if you have a good step, great acceleration and can find the try line.
Is it right? No. That is why we need administrators who are impartial and not swayed by emotions. Rugby League has proven time and time again that self regulation is something it simply can not do.
In March, Josh Dugan was everything we do not want to see in a Rugby League player. Now he is the best fullback in New South Wales.
Rugby League needs to think about how that was allowed to happen and asks itself what type of message that sends to other players.
A well known Rugby League writer, League Freak has established a reputation among supporters of the game for his fearless commentary and unmatched insight. With a reach that spans both sides of the globe, League Freak has produced an independent network that allows him to distribute content to his many thousands of followers. He is the owner and main author of LeagueFreak.com
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