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Dugan case a matter of respect

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Monday, March 18, 2013 - 11:00 AM
Source: SportsFan
Author: Will McCloy

CLUBHOUSE BLOG: Rugby league is a team game, something Josh Dugan forgot when he brought about his own demise at the Raiders.

If you're into social media, there's been plenty to talk about this week. Cricket players dropped, pre-season clashes and more drug scandals than a week with Pete Doherty.

One thing that has really grabbed the Twittersphere's attention is the drama surrounding star NRL centre Josh Dugan, formerly of the Canberra Raiders.

It took two-and-a-half hours for the Raiders board to reach the decision to sack Dugan after a series of conduct breaches, highlighted by a rooftop drinking session after the side's loss to Penrith last Sunday.

Just in case he got away with it, Dugan posted a photo of himself drinking (a Bacardi Breezer, no less) and making a rude gesture to the camera – taken by many as a show of disrespect to the club.

In the background is another Raider, Blake Ferguson. Ferguson survived the axe because he has shown signs of wanting to rectify his mistakes, and good for him. We all hope he does.

Both have courted their fair share of trouble off the field, with Dugan leading the way.

The press, and social media, this week have almost universally condemned the pair and in this case it is with good reason.

Reports that Dugan's problems stem from a fallout with coach David Furner have yet to be substantiated, but it is accepted fact that Dugan has long ago lost the faith of the Raiders' senior playing group. If anything, that says more about his behaviour.

Teammate, Origin and Test star David Shillington wrote on Friday of Dugan's antics, and one sentence stands out: “As a playing group, we haven't heard a word from Duges.”

To commit the foul is one thing, but to show a complete lack of regard for his teammates shows the ultimate selfishness. Dugan didn't even show up to his own hearing, and his communication with the team and fans amounts to two short tweets.

@joshdugan I apologize to my team mates and the fans but this is personal and needs to be sorted out as soon as possible for me to move forward.

@joshdugan This goes beyond the drinking while injured. Yes I've broken team rules but for me it goes deeper and I plan on sorting it out.

Not good enough!

Rugby league is a team game, and professional sport is just that – professional. To be an elite athlete, and enjoy all the trappings that come with it, means you must respect the game at all levels; from the fans, to the club, teammates and the board. To cite a 'deeper problem' and hide behind it is weak. The structure of the NRL and all the free help it offers is only a scrap of humility and one phone call away. If you are having problems, and wish them to remain private, ask the club for help and you will receive it. Ben Barba did just that, and we applauded his strength and respected his privacy. This is an entirely different case.

We don't require our footballing heroes to be problem free. We only ask that they respect the game and their position within it.

Let's hope 'Duges' sorts out his priorities and realises his potential, both as a footballer and as a person.   

Catch Will McCloy and the gang on the Clubhouse, live on SportsFan at 8pm, Mondays to Thursdays.

Follow Will McCloy on Twitter @will_mccloy or SportsFan on Twitter @sportsfan_live.


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