Wasted talent ... Josh Dugan.

Wasted talent ... Josh Dugan.

As a St George Illawarra supporter I can't say I'm too upset by the present troubles at the Canberra Raiders. Will Sunday's game be the best opportunity the Dragons have had for a win in the past 13 years? I hope so. The Raiders were dismal against the Gold Coast Titans last weekend and have had their worst start to a season since 1982, sitting on the bottom of the ladder after two rounds with a -58 points differential. Mind you, the Dragons are right on top of them with a -36.

But the Dragons have a knack of bringing out the best in the Raiders, unfortunately, and perhaps this is the weekend that David Furner's team will turn it around. Something I think the home fans will greatly appreciate.

But this column's not about predicting Sunday's result. It's about the whole Josh Dugan thing. I don't know the man (pictured), have never interviewed him, have never even been in the same room as him.

I'm just one of those punters who is making an assumption that the guy is an idiot. There are a lot of us.

This was brought home last week after a couple of conversations with my nine-year-old son. He loves his footy, whether it be rugby union or rugby league. He loves the Brumbies and would probably say he is a Tigers fan, but with the league he is happy to run with whoever is winning. Even if it is the Melbourne Storm, which thoroughly irritates his mother.

He asked me why the Raiders sacked Dugan and I explained the story to him, trying to bring it down to his level by comparing it to breaking school rules and the consequences that would have. I think he got it.

And then he asked, in so many words, whether Dugan was as big an idiot as Quade Cooper, the Queensland Reds and sometimes Wallabies fly-half. Where did that come from, I asked myself, explaining, that they were equally idiotic, just in their own special way.

As a mother I do worry what sort of role models certain players in the football codes are to my children. But I don't get too worked up about it.

There are plenty of fine men in the football codes for kids to idolise, players such as Benji Marshall, Johnathan Thurston, David Pocock and Ben Mowen are a few that come to mind. I don't know any of these men either, but, for the best part, give or take Thurston's potty mouth, they seem to be able to play football and live life pretty much within the rules. Or at least discretely.

But then again, as a mother, I don't want my children idolising sports stars. Sure, I know they probably will.

As a kid I admired athletes such as Dennis Lillee, Evonne Goolagong and Shane Gould. But did I ever want to be them? No. I wanted to be my sixth-grade teacher Mrs Hale, or my fabulous family doctor Dr Death (pronounced Deeth, thank you), hey, even my mother was somebody to aspire to.

It's probably different now. There's more sport on television. There's more sport on social media. More of the off-field side of it all. Watching Howzat! Kerry Packer's War on television made me realise how little we actually knew, back then, about what was happening off the field.

Maybe it should have stayed that way. Just how much influence sports stars do have came up again last week when my son and I just happened to stumble into a tattoo parlour. Long story, but we were killing time before an appointment. He got to chatting with the lovely guy behind the counter about how he thought he might get the full tribal sleeve tattoo thing when he was older, like the footballers. (And don't get me started about how ridiculous it is when a man who has no connection to tribal culture adorns himself with tribal tattoos.)

I could see the amusement behind the tattooist's bushy beard. He, my son, not the tattooist, has a cricket shirt with the Southern Cross on the deltoid (that's the top of your arm), so we made a deal that if ever he played cricket, or football, for Australia, I'd let him get the Southern Cross on his arm, because that would mean something.

Or if he made it to the Olympics, perhaps he could get the Olympic rings somewhere subtle. He thought that was a fair deal. Victory to mum.

There are other sports-related lessons I've been working on lately, mainly centring around making the most of your natural talent, and being humble about it.

My son, if I don't say so myself, has some talent at a few things. (He probably doesn't really, I'm probably looking at his ability through those mother-tinted glasses.) And sometimes he doesn't mind telling you about it.

But being talented is not enough. Just ask Josh Dugan. There is nothing more frustrating, as a fan, as a parent even, than watching someone with a natural talent for something throw it all away, or waste it, or not utilise it to its full capacity because they are being a dickhead in the process.

I'm one of those athletes - ha, there's something for you, does a 40-year mediocre sporting career that never really amounted to anything give you the right to call yourself an athlete? - who never had a natural talent for anything.

I was always happy to give things a go, try my hardest, and never let my teammates down. These are the qualities I'm trying to instil in my children.

But for all that has happened, I'll be more than happy if it means the red and whites can sneak home tomorrow. Go the Dragons.