It was going to take a huge news headline for Rugby League to knock news of the Mayweather/McGregor off the lead sports headline, but Josh Dugan’s missing the team bus and resulting dropping from the Dragons match day squad came mighty close.
For those who missed the news, the Dragons centre was sat out of the team’s must-win contest against the Panthers after missing the team bus to the game.
Reportedly it was the final straw in a string if minor incidents, and was seen as a statement that no player is bigger than the club, and the culture it was trying to instill.
The news split social media with most agreeing that Dugan had let the side down by not showing up for the team bus and should have been sat down. Others argued that Dugan’s missing the bus was minor and the Dragons season wasn’t worth being put in jeopardy by not naming their strike centre in Dugan.
The news lead to Paul Gallen, Dugan’s club captain next year as he makes the short trip to join the Sharks, to state that Dugan will be expected to fit the club culture or face a rough season.
No matter what the reaction to the news, nearly all agreed that it was a statement by Dragon’s coach Paul McGregor that only the very best in professionalism would do at the Dragons.
To drop one of their best attacking weapons in a clash with their season literally on the line was seen as a huge statement of culture.
So why, just three days later, has Josh Dugan been named in the side to fight for their finals lives?
Don’t get me wrong, Dugan missing the team bus is hardly an incident that should result in a contract being torn up, but what has changed in such little time?
There’s always the chance that Dugan may be dropped on the weekend with two outside backs named in the squad.
But why not stick to your guns and name Dugan outside the original 17 man squad and further the message that was sent last week?
All the talk during the few days between Sunday’s clash and Tuesday’s team being named was that Dugan had played his last game for the Red V.
For what its worth, I believe Dugan has paid a reasonable price for missing the bus. After all, he did drive to the game, making it obvious it was nothing more than an error on his behalf, albeit a clumsy one a player of his experience should not be making.
I have no problem with him being named, if I were a Dragons fan I’d want Dugan named. This is the NSW and Kangaroos centre we are talking about. His being there may be the difference between a top eight finish and an early Mad Monday.
Is this a case of Dugan having served his sentence and returning to the side, or it is a case of the club putting finals footy above all else?
Once again, if I were the Dragons, I’d name him. Absolutely no question in the world of that.
Call me skeptical though, but if the Dragons season weren’t on the line, I don’t think Dugan would have been named in the run on side this Sunday afternoon.
Hopefully he has learned whatever lesson was meant to be taught last weekend as the Kangaroos need Dugan fully focused and firing to help keep the New Zealanders and English at bay in October/November.