St George Illawarra fullback Josh Dugan has dropped a bombshell three days out from the Dragons’ local derby clash with Cronulla, declaring he would not rule out a switch to rugby union if his future with the club is not settled.
Dugan, who is off contract at the end of the season, wants to play fullback despite claims that some at the Dragons see him as a centre. The 26-year-old has played in the centres at representative level for NSW and Australia.
St George Illawarra also have options at fullback including electric local junior Matt Dufty and Kurt Mann.
Dugan, who played rugby union as a junior, said a switch to the 15-a-side game could be on the cards if things couldn’t be worked out – and has already spoken to clubs.
“I’m not going to rule anything out. [Rugby union is] obviously an option. I have spoken to certain clubs overseas but my first goal is to stay in the NRL,” he said.
“I actually grew up playing rugby before I played rugby league. I could have played for the Brumbies when I was younger but chose to play Harold Matts [under-16s] for the Raiders so I’ve got a little bit of background. It wouldn’t be that hard a switch for me I don’t think.
“I feel like I’m playing good footy. I’ve just come off the Four Nations tour where I thought I played pretty well in that side. That’s my goal this year, is to be there at the end of the year with the World Cup.
“I feel like I’m a fullback. I’ve said that all along. The rest of that stuff is up to my management and the club but I’m looking to play fullback.”
Dugan said he didn’t think the issue would be resolved “any time soon.”
St George Illawarra, who announced the re-signing of back-rower Jack de Belin on a three-year deal earlier this week, will look to bounce back from their thrashing at the hands of Parramatta last weekend when they take on the Sharks on Sunday.
The Dragons were big winners the last time the sides met at Kogarah but will be up against a hostile shire crowd at Southern Cross Group Stadium as well as the reigning premiers who returned to form against Canberra last weekend.
“Anyone whose involved in it through both clubs knows how passionate and how hard a game it is,” Dugan said.
“It’s always a fixture I look forward to and [I’m] definitely looking forward to Sunday.
“[Cronulla winning the premiership] doesn’t change too much from our end. They’ve got that premiership now and full credit to them on going all the way last year and they’ll still be riding a high from it.
“We know it’s going to be a tough game. We’ve got to be on the front foot.”
Kick-off is at 6.30pm.