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Josh Dugan on off-season odyssey to maturity for St George Illawarra

Settled: Josh Dugan.

Settled: Josh Dugan. Photo: John Veage

Some might say this story has been written before. The statements by Josh Dugan that he is ready to make good on his talent, to curb his habit of throwing his potential away, how he is feeling as good as he ever has.

Parts of it have been said before, no doubt. But one aspect has not. How he has, without much fuss in the off-season, been training.

''That's been good fun - just trying to get that upper hand, going into the tough part of the year,'' Dugan said on Friday.

It will not surprise many to know this is the first time Dugan, sacked by the Raiders early last season before being given a lifeline by the Dragons, has gone to such lengths during his time off.

''I've just cruised by - had my time off,'' Dugan said. ''I'm just looking forward to seeing how it's changed.''

Other things have, apparently, changed him. His little boy, Jackson, born in July and being raised in Brisbane by his former partner, has settled him. The 23-year-old also says his sacking was the ''kick up the bum'' he needed, admitting he was getting by on ''raw talent'' and little more in recent years.

''It's really matured me, and I feel like it's made me a better person,'' he said. ''Canberra was my home town, and I had all my family there. As much as I miss my family, [the move] has made me a better person. I've matured a lot. I feel as though I'm very settled.''

While he feels settled, the career of former drinking buddy Blake Ferguson is not. Dugan was sacked after repeated misdemeanours, including his infamous rooftop drinking session with the centre. Ferguson has not played since the pair's Origin reunion turned sour.

Dugan says he wishes his former Raiders teammate ''all the best''. ''You learn from your mistakes,'' Dugan said. ''He seems to be on the right track now with his training for the boxing fight. I wish him all the best. I've had a little bit of contact with him, but we're both in new lives now, new chapters.''

Dugan, meanwhile, expects to be bigger as well as better next season. He stepped on the scales this week at 101 kilograms, his heaviest playing weight, which is part of a ploy to make him even more of a strike weapon from the back.

''I've put on a couple of kilos. I've kept my fitness, so I'm just looking to get back and hopefully keep my speed and agility with the few extra kilos,'' Dugan said.

The NSW fullback's late-season broken thumb also allowed him to have a niggling ankle problem, which had been troubling him since 2010, cleaned out.

''I've had it cleaned out three times. Hopefully, third time's a charm and I don't have to worry about it again too much,'' Dugan said. ''I'm feeling 100 per cent fit. I've trained pretty much the whole off-season. I'm just looking forward to getting back around the boys.''

Those boys, who begin pre-season training on Monday, are looking forward to seeing what the new and hopefully improved Dugan can do.

''He seems to be going great,'' skipper Ben Creagh said. ''He's been great ever since he came to the club, really … I think he's taken this opportunity with both hands and he's kicked on. The confidence he brought to the side, and the X-factor, we were missing. It worries other sides.

''I think he knows now how big an influence he is, not only on older guys in the team, but a lot of younger guys in the squad, too.

''I think he knows now that he's a role model, he's a leader, and he's got to act like that. He's doing a great job.''

2 comments so far

  • The jury is still well and truly out when it comes to Dugan......
    he needs some consistency.....plus 12 months without any "atrocities"

    Commenter
    Baxter Creampuff
    Location
    Merrylands
    Date and time
    November 15, 2013, 11:23PM
    • I agree, consistency is the key here. I've been a big fan of Duges but have been let at times by his behaviour. One thing I do know is if being a Father doesn't smarten him up nothing will. Hopefully he proves all the haters wrong. looking forward to seeing how he goes next season especially with a bit more talent in his team.

      Commenter
      Tim the Tool man
      Date and time
      November 16, 2013, 2:17PM

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      NQL vs CBR 00:001300 Smiles Stadium
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      SOU vs PEN 00:00ANZ
      SYD vs CBY 00:00AS
      MAN vs BRI 00:00To Be Confirmed
      WST vs MEL 00:00VAS
      GCT vs PAR 00:00Cbus Super Stadium
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      Thu, 06 AugTimes shown AEST
      WAR vs STG 22:00MSS
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      BRI vs CBY 00:00SUN
      NEW vs SYD 00:00HS
      CBR vs WST 00:00GIO Stadium
      MAN vs SOU 00:00BO
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      MEL vs GCT 00:00AAMI
      PAR vs PEN 00:30TIO
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      Thu, 13 AugTimes shown AEST
      BRI vs STG 00:00SUN
      CBY vs GCT 00:00To Be Confirmed
      NQL vs SOU 00:001300 Smiles Stadium
      PEN vs WAR 00:00Pepper Stadium
      CBR vs MAN 00:00GIO Stadium
      SYD vs PAR 00:00AS
      CRO vs MEL 00:00Remondis Stadium
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      WAR vs NQL 22:00MSS
      Thu, 20 AugTimes shown AEST
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      SOU vs CBY 00:00ANZ
      SYD vs BRI 00:00AS
      MAN vs PAR 00:00BO
      CRO vs WST 00:00Remondis Stadium
      MEL vs NEW 00:00AAMI
      GCT vs CBR 00:00Cbus Super Stadium
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      Thu, 27 AugTimes shown AEST
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      NEW vs CBY 00:00HS
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      CBR vs PEN 00:00GIO Stadium
      MAN vs SYD 00:00BO
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      WST vs WAR 00:00CSS
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      Thu, 03 SepTimes shown AEST
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      CBY vs WAR 00:00ANZ
      NQL vs GCT 00:001300 Smiles Stadium
      STG vs WST 00:00ANZ
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