St George Illawarra Dragons Director of Performance and Medical Tony Ayoub has revealed star fullback Josh Dugan has gone for post-season neck surgery, with an ongoing complaint that would have hampered his playing future if not seen to this off-season.
Ayoub said it was a matter of Dugan going under the knife "sooner rather than later", but is hopeful the Red V and NSW custodian won't miss any game time.
"He [Dugan] has been managing it all year and they've been doing a wonderful job, the medical staff, managing him," Ayoub said.
"But it just got to the stage where we thought it was going to impact on his season next year so we decided in consultation with our doc and the neurosurgeon that we were going to operate on him, just to get his neck right.
"Post-Christmas, he'll be back with the main squad, and hopefully he'll play all our trials, but we'll see how he is after the surgery."
Keen observers will have noticed Dugan in significant pain at certain points of the 2015 season, particularly after heavy collision, with Ayoub confirming that this ongoing neck injury was the cause of the fullback's discomfort.
"You can see him in most games he struggles after being tackled when he's not aware that the tackler was there. We just thought that the best course of action was to get it done."
The news on the injury front was positive for halfback Benji Marshall, who will be back training with teammates in the coming weeks after ending the season with a high ankle sprain.
"[Marshall] has been coming along really well with his ankle, he's been seeing my business partner up in Sydney for physio regularly after his syndesmosis injury.
"He had surgery, fortunately nothing had to be done it was just cleaned up, he didn't have to have a pin put through it, and he'll be right to go, he'll probably be running well before Christmas which is great."
A key recruit as part of Paul McGregor's off-field staff, Ayoub has a long involvement in the game, working alongside coach Chris Anderson for a number of years at the Bulldogs, Storm, Sharks, and Roosters, before heading back to the Bulldogs and Storm. Ayoub also has worked at Origin and international level as the Kangaroos' team physiotherapist since 1999.
This article first appeared on NRL.com