Dugan: I Want To Extend Stay Here
By Chris Kennedy (NRL.com)
A newly-engaged Josh Dugan says he is settled on and off the field and is in talks to extend his stay at the Red V despite ongoing speculation he may follow Jarryd Hayne's lead and try to forge a career in the NFL in the US.
As he continues his recovery from off-season neck surgery Dugan said he can't see a move to the NFL happening any time soon.
Dugan has grown significantly as a player since being moved on by the Raiders for a now-infamous rooftop drinking session, among other indiscretions, and that wake-up call remains central to his current positive mindset, he said.
"I think I've been in a pretty good mindset over the last couple of years. Sometimes you just need that change and that wake-up call and I think that's been the best thing for me, getting that wake-up call and getting settled off the field.
"As I've said before this is the most settled I've been off the field and in turn it puts your form and stuff on the field and makes it even better.
"I actually got engaged over in Thailand [during the off-season] so I'm pretty stoked about that. She said yes so that's always a plus! I'm pretty happy with how everything's going on and off the field."
While Dugan didn't rule out a move to the NFL down the track he said it's not in his short-term thinking.
"Look, if the opportunity came up – I've always said I'll back my ability and that sort of thing but at the same time my contract's here, I'm contracted for two years, I'm currently in talks of extending as well. In the near future I can't see it happening."
That near-term future may even include a shift back to the centres – a position he tried with moderate success in a 2014 season that saw him plug a gap in the three-quarter line in a successful Origin campaign for NSW.
While fullback appears Dugan's best position he remains interested by the prospect of mastering another position and the arrival of Kurt Mann from Melbourne and the development of players such as Peter Mata'utia give coach Paul McGregor options with his roster.
However Mata'utia and Mann, Dylan Farrell, youngsters Kiti Glymin and Euan Aitken and new recruit Kalifa Faifai Loa will all be jostling for three spots alongside Jason Nightingale in McGregor's three-quarter line so those positions will be amply filled if Dugan does remain at the back.
Dugan's ongoing recovery from neck surgery also mean other players will need to rotate through fullback throughout the off-season, at least until Dugan returns to full training after Christmas.
"I'd be happy to jump in the centres again; I enjoyed my time there," Dugan said.
"I felt like I only scratched the surface and I wouldn't mind having a crack there but we've got some great players there as well.
"For me at the moment it's about doing everything I can right with my neck. I'm going to miss the majority of the pre-season, I won't be on the field too much with the boys so they'll probably have to do a bit without me anyway.
"I don't mind where I play, whether it's fullback or centre."