Dugan's helping hand for Holmes
Cronulla Sharks star Josh Dugan has told Valentine Holmes he will help the displaced fullback improve his game so he can eventually return to the No.1 jersey.
After switching to fullback in place of Holmes for Thursday night's match against St George Illawarra Dragons, Dugan admitted it was his preferred position but said he was willing to play in the centres if Sharks coach Shane Flanagan felt it was best for the team.
With Dugan arguably the Sharks best player in the 20-16 loss to the Dragons and Holmes turning in another below par performance on the wing, Flanagan has indicated that he isn't planning to move either of the pair in the immediate future.
However, Dugan believes Holmes has the potential to be a top line fullback and revealed that he had spoken to him after Flanagan announced the positional switch and offered to mentor the Queensland and Australian representative.
''I pulled him aside and I said I had his back,'' Dugan said.
''I don't think you can judge anyone on one week but if you want someone to get better they have got to keep learning it and I said, 'as long as I am here I am going to keep helping you'.
''That is what's going to happen moving forward. I will keep giving him little tips and pointers wherever I can. This is my 10th season in the NRL and probably eight of those have been at the back so I have got a bit of knowledge there I feel, and I am here to help.''
While Holmes struggled to get involved on the wing, Dugan thrived with the move to fullback and admitted he would rather play there than at centre, where he has represented NSW and Australia in recent seasons.
''I love it and it is always going to be my preferred position, I think,'' Dugan said.
''Even just at training I had a ball. I was out the back having fun again and getting my hands on the ball.
''I guess it is just going to be one of those things. I have proven I can play both so I think we will just keep working at training between me and Val, and see what happens.''
Despite playing on the wing at Origin and Test level, Holmes has made no secret of the fact he wants the No.1 jersey for the Sharks but Dugan said he had accepted Flanagan's decision to switch the pair after last week's 20-14 loss to North Queensland.
''He took it well. He took it on the chin and he moved forward,'' Dugan said.
''He had a good week at training, even with the decision. He went out there and did his business and for a kid like that to do that I think is a great accolade for him and I have got nothing but praise for Val.''
Asked if he thinks Holmes can develop into a good fullback, Dugan said: ''Definitely. He brings the ball back with courage, he is one of the best ball runners in the game ... a dangerous ball runner.
''Fullback is not a position you can just get thrown into and learn it overnight, you have just got to keep working on it and you will get there.''
In the meantime, Dugan said he would continue playing fullback until Flanagan asks him to revert to centre.
''When I signed here I said to Flanno that I will do what is best for the team and nothing has changed,'' Dugan said.
''It's up to Flanno where he sees is the best fit for the club and for the squad moving forward but I think I didn't hurt myself in any way [against the Dragons].
''I went over there [to fullback] to play as hard as I could, I do that every week, and wherever Flanno sees is best I am happy to play.''