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Raiders announce Josh Dugan sacked

RAW FOOTAGE: The Canberra Raiders CEO Don Furner announces Josh Dugan has been sacked by the rugby league club.

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Canberra Raiders team photo - Blake Ferguson hugs Glen Buttriss just behind coach David Furner. Josh Dugan is noticeably absent.

Canberra Raiders team photo - Blake Ferguson hugs Glen Buttriss just behind coach David Furner. Josh Dugan is noticeably absent. Photo: Colleen Petch

The Canberra Raiders have confirmed Josh Dugan’s contract has been terminated.

Raiders chief executive Don Furner said the club had been left with no alternative but to sack star fullback Josh Dugan immediately, but would not confirm whether the club would try to prevent him joining an NRL rival club this season.

The Raiders board voted unanimously on Thursday morning to terminate Dugan’s two-year-contract immediately for repeated off-field infringements, culminating on Monday when Dugan and centre Blake Ferguson skipped training to go on an alcoholic bender. They were suspended indefinitely earlier this week after posting pictures on social media.

Raiders' coach, David Furner, leaves a meeting with the Raiders board at Canberra Stadium this morning..

Raiders' coach, David Furner, leaves a meeting with the Raiders board at Canberra Stadium this morning.. Photo: Rohan Thomson

Ferguson has been fined $10,000 and remains suspended indefinitely, but will receive ongoing counselling to try and save his career in Canberra.

Dugan has not trained or been in contact with the club since Monday when he had a heated exchange with coach David Furner at Ferguson’s Nicholls home.

Don Furner said the club had invited Dugan to attend Thursday’s board meeting via his manager, Paul Sutton, but the one-time State of Origin fullback declined because he thought his fate was already sealed. Dugan also failed to attend an official team photograph on Thursday afternoon.

Photo from Josh Dugan's Instagram account, which he captioned: "Make your own luck! Whatever will be will be!".

Photo from Josh Dugan's Instagram account, which he captioned: "Make your own luck! Whatever will be will be!".

‘‘There was no other alternative but to set him loose,’’ Furner said.

‘‘We’re comfortable with the decision we’ve made, it’s obviously something we haven’t taken lightly ... it’s an unfortunate day.’’

The Raiders board met for two and a half a hours at Canberra Stadium this morning.

The meeting was attended by NRL boss David Smith and Australian Rugby League Commission chairman John Grant, who were already scheduled to attend before the latest off-field saga engulfed the club. It’s understood Canberra’s board has inquired about whether Dugan could be de-registered from the NRL this season. It would prevent him from joining another NRL club in 2013.

Furner would not comment on whether the Raiders would pressure the NRL to de-register Dugan, other than to say ‘‘they’re supportive of our process [to sack Dugan]’’.

Furner addressed the Raiders players before Thursday afternoon’s announcement and said he had received no questions from the team. The senior players had been consulted before the decision and it’s understood Dugan had lost the faith of his teammates.

Dugan and Ferguson were both stood down for an NRL match in 2012 for alcohol-related incidents but Furner said the Raiders had treated their cases individually.

Ferguson showed up for training on Tuesday this week and it may have saved him.

‘‘[Ferguson] knows what he has to work on,’’ Furner said. ‘‘He’s had some issues as well. He turned up to training the next day. He has been undergoing some counselling.’’

The Raiders play the Titans on the Gold Coast on Sunday. Reece Robinson has been named to replace Dugan at fullback.

Rival NRL clubs Penrith, St George Illawarra, Gold Coast and Brisbane are reportedly interested in securing Dugan, and French rugby is also an option.