Andrew Webster, speaking on NRL 360 two nights ago, revealed that the Dragons are offering Josh Dugan a reported $750,000 a season to continue on in the Red V, $100,000 less than he is currently earning.
The club are adamant that for as long as Dugan remains a Dragon beyond this season; he will do so in the centres.
This, despite coach Paul McGregor stating after the game on Sunday night that Dugan’s best football is played at fullback, and for as long as he is at the helm, that is where he will stay.
It’s clear that there are major disparities between what the club want and what the coach believes is in the best interest of his team moving forward.
This is dangerous ground for a football club.
Dugan has spent the last four years earning back the respect and admiration he lost when he parted ways with the Raiders following a string of off-field incidents that saw his career face a premature end.
Over this period, he has represented his state and country and has been a consistent performer through a dry period for the club.
So for the Dragons to offer Dugan less money than his current value is an insult to not only his growth as a footballer but his worth to the team.
The addition of Ben Hunt has a great deal to do with this.
Three months ago, the Dragons would’ve jumped at the opportunity to secure Dugan’s signature beyond this year, regardless of his asking price. It was a no brainer.
But the exorbitant figure they dished out to lure Hunt away from Brisbane has left a huge hole in the kitty.
In many ways, Hunt could prove to be more of a hindrance than the gifted messiah he is made out to be.
The Dragons were reeling entering season 2017 and the signature of Hunt assured fans that they would become a competitive force again next year.
A marquee signing would settle tensions and promise a light at the end of the tunnel scenario. And in many ways, it has.
A month into the season though, and suddenly it looks as if they might have jumped the gun. Confidence is running high and things no longer look so bleak.
The issue for the Dragons has always been their willingness to look outside of the club when the talent lies within; letting players go who have been brought up through the local systems but haven’t delivered on their potential.
And so the cycle goes: lure a high profile player by offering a life changing sum of money and force a group of home grown players to go searching for another club.
Then, when that player excels at a rival club and the marquee signing that took his place gets dropped to reserve grade, admit that the money would have been better spent keeping him on the books.
Let Dugan walk away for a matter of a few hundred thousand dollars and be left red in the face again.
He’s been one of the best performers through a difficult period for the club and is well worth his asking price if he is allowed to play at fullback.
The centre experiment hasn’t worked in the past at the Dragons and the club should recognise that he is not worth the coin to stand on an edge and be starved of possession.
He might be entering the backend of his career but the physicality of an NRL contest has not caught up with him. There are signs that he could go to another level if this current Dragons outfit continues in the same rich vein of form.
They look as well drilled as the first infantry.
The Dragons were blinded by poor performances when they penned the Hunt deal and will suffer dearly if they can’t fit their off-contract stars under the cap now that they have limited space left to work with.
The signing of Dugan is seismic. It could see the likes of Widdop, Lafai, Mann, Matthews and Packer squeezed out of the club at the end of the 2017 season.
A significant blow for the Dragons who are slowly regaining their aura after a painful period where wins were harder to come by than taxi’s on a Saturday night.
The Dragons on-field woes might well have been answered across the first four rounds of the competition but the tangled web of off field logistics has the potential to put the brakes on their progress.