Raiders firm but fair on Dugan: Earl
No bad blood ... Sandor Earl, right, is one of the few people to have spoken to Josh Dugan since he was sacked. Photo: Colleen Petch
Canberra Raiders winger Sandor Earl insists there is no bad blood between the playing group and Josh Dugan, but has backed the club's tough stance to sack the wayward fullback.
One of Dugan's closest friends at the club, Earl has contacted him to check on his welfare after his contract was torn up on Thursday for continued breaches of team policy.
Police were called to a noise disturbance at a Nicholls home on Monday, which Earl rents with teammates Blake Ferguson and Jack Wighton, but Earl wasn't present. Ferguson has been stood down indefinitely and fined $10,000 after he and Dugan posted pictures on Instagram of them drinking on the roof.
Photo from Josh Dugan's Instagram account, which he captioned: "Make your own luck! Whatever will be will be!".
Most players are yet to have any contact with Dugan after he skipped training on Monday, with Earl one of the few exceptions.
''I've spoken to him just to see that he's all right, he has to sort out his own stuff and go about his business,'' Earl said.
''The club has dealt with it well and appropriately, and I think he and all the players understand it.
''There's no bad blood between anyone, and hopefully things all work out for Duges.''
Earl spoke on Friday morning at Kambah's Namadgi School, where he and Wighton addressed students as part of the club's ''Silence Is Deadly'' campaign.
The 23-year-old leapt to the defence of Dugan when asked if his actions were disrespectful to the team.
''I definitely wouldn't say he's selfish, it's just an unfortunate set of circumstances and a few incidents that have gone wrong,'' Earl said.
''He [Dugan] is obviously disappointed. If he can get anything out of it he just wants the playing group to hopefully understand he's not 'dogging' them. It's hard for me to comment on what he's going through, but hopefully it works out for him and we can move forward as a club and a team.
''What went down wasn't ideal, but I give props to Don and Dave [Furner, Raiders chief executive and coach] on how they handled it.''
Earl said he had spoken to his housemate and close friend Ferguson on the situation, and was confident he was serious about turning his off-field behaviour around.
''Blake's doing everything he can to do right by the team, as long as he keeps on that path I'm sure he'll be fine,'' Earl said.
Earl has developed a potent right-edge combination with centre Ferguson, but will link with Wighton on Sunday.
Wighton will play his first NRL game at right centre, a prospect Earl is looking forward to.
''He's an amazing talent and I'm excited to play with him,'' Earl said.
''It's definitely not a distraction, we've got great replacements so we're pretty lucky.''
Earl also criticised his former Panthers teammates for calling Dugan ''soft'' during Penrith's 32-10 win last Sunday.
''I think to call anyone soft unless you really know what they're going through is fairly out of line,'' he said.
Wighton made his first-grade debut in Canberra's round-two win on the Gold Coast last year, earning the nickname ''Jumping Jack'' for his acrobatic leap that set up a Jarrod Croker try.
He has fond memories of Queensland, having also played for the Indigenous All Stars at Brisbane in February.
''It was unbelievable to play with some of the best players in the world like GI [Greg Inglis] and Johnathan Thurston, just a thrill,'' Wighton said.
''They helped me with little things and the way they go about their business, routines going into a game and being professional, like not digging out on buffets.''
SUNDAY: NRL round two: Gold Coast Titans v Canberra Raiders at Skilled Park, 2pm. TV Time: Live on Fox Sports 2.
Poll: Did the Raiders do the right thing in sacking Josh Dugan?
- Absolutely. He'd had enough chances, and this week's actions left them with no choice.
- No. He needed to be punished, but they should have stopped short of sacking him.
- No. He didn't really do that much wrong, he was just having some fun and everyone over-reacted.
Total votes: 4771.
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Poll closed 21 Mar, 2013
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