By Jack Brady (NRL.com)
St George Illawarra coach Paul McGregor has confirmed Josh Dugan's desire to move to the centres in 2016.
After a successful shift to the three-quarters during the 2014 season, Dugan returned to the custodian role for the 2015 season in its entirety with Jarryd Hayne's move to the NFL ensuring the 25-year-old also made the New South Wales No. 1 jumper his own.
Off-season surgery on a bulging disc in his neck is also believed to have played a part in Dugan's thinking.
"I think Josh would like to play centre to be honest with you," said McGregor.
"We're moving him around at training at the moment. Josh is a typical, big, hard-running centre. He's 103, 104kg and he likes positioning himself on the right-hand side of the field.
"Obviously that being said he is a State of Origin fullback and Australian winger at the moment, so his versatility is outstanding.
"To have a player of that calibre who has really conquered Origin, International and club football in three different positions is a good player to have."
Helping Dugan's cause is the signing of Storm utility Kurt Mann for the 2016 season as well as the return of Adam Quinlan – who replaced Dugan at fullback in 2014 – who re-joined the side after a stint with Super League outfit St Helens.
"Kurt's obviously brought a point of difference to us where he can play in the halves or out the back – something we didn't have last year," McGregor said.
"We have young [Adam] Quinlan back here as well who played 15 games when Josh played in the centres the year before too."
With Tim Lafai signing on with the Dragons a fortnight ago and Kiwi international Jason Nightingale remaining at the Red V, the club's outside back depth is arguably the best it's ever been.
Considering 2015 regulars Euan Aitken and Peter Mata'utia will have to fight for their spots is a testament to this – the young duo having to contest for spots alongside Kiti Glymin, Dylan Farrell and Kalifa Faifai Loa.
"I think our depth is a lot better than what it was last year even with an 18 player turnaround. It's interesting you know where our depth was and where it is now in key positions like the backline," McGregor said.
"We have more experience in key positions where we weren't fortunate to have previously and that's the key to success to be honest – you have to have depth – and our balance is a lot better now than it was 12 months ago.
"We found out this year when we lost a couple on the trot that we didn't have enough players and when we had numerous injuries we weren't sustainable."