You have skipped the navigation, tab for page content
Sharks star Josh Dugan.

An emotional Josh Dugan has broken down while fronting the media on Tuesday, saying he's an easy target for media and fans in the game.

The former NSW and Australian representative's season for new club the Sharks has been hampered by injury and inconsistency.

He recently attracted plenty of criticism after appearing on a podcast with Andrew Fifita in which they made derogatory comments about senior NewsCorp journalist Phil Rothfield.

Dugan refused to comment on his podcast comments but was later asked about his mental state this season and struggled to keep himself together in his response, detailing how the negativity around the game had become too much for him.

"It's been very tough especially when you're getting jabs by the media over certain things," Dugan said.

"I think I've been an easy target since 2013 (in reference to being sacked by Canberra) and I don't see that changing... everyone is going to have their opinion on me ever since then - it's never going to change.

"I'm fortunate to be in a team that's still fighting to be in a grand final. That's what I'm focusing on."

Dugan will line up in the centres for Cronulla in their sudden-death semi-final against Penrith at Allianz Stadium on Friday night.

Dugan: Because of my past, I'm an easy target

He lost his place in the Origin side this season to young rivals Latrell Mitchell and James Roberts, but remains an option for Australian coach Mal Meninga following a strong World Cup campaign last year.

"It doesn't matter how much stuff I do outside of footy.. I raised up to $15,000 for a young boy not that long ago, I visited him in hospital, he passed away... you don't hear about that," Dugan continued.

"It's only the bad stuff [you hear]... I'm used to it. It's draining. There's possibly a few positive stories - one every couple of months - other than that I feel negativity sells papers.

"I understand players are responsible for their actions, and I'm responsible for mine - which I have been. I've copped a lot of brunt for the things I've done.

"I've accepted that - moved on from that. But it doesn't help when negativity sells papers more than a good feeling story."

Sharks skipper Paul Gallen said Dugan is "human like everyone else" and emotions may have worn down the 28-year-old as the season has gone on.

"Without a doubt, everyone is misunderstood," Gallen said.

"I had a blow up the other day about the negative stories you guys love to write. As a club, we've done over 2200 hours of community [service], that's like a full-time job, Monday to Friday 9-5 of one person, we've done that to date.

"And that doesn't include things that aren't reported, like the things that Duges does, the video messages we send people, the local footy training we go to.

"Unfortunately that's just life, it's the way it is, negative stories take the limelight away from the positive ones. I know how much Duges does for other people.

Cronk as his say on player scrutiny

"He doesn't go looking for limelight, he doesn't have a camera behind his back when he goes and sees a kid in hospital."

Dugan posted photos of visiting 13-year-old Avoca Beach boy Gabe Smith in hospital, being treated for an aggressive brain tumour. The boy died in July.

Dugan said he had been trying to change people's perceptions of him.

"I've been trying for the last five years. I've got my diploma in community and social work. I've been doing stuff in the community for the past nine months - things you don't hear about," he said.

"I've always felt like I can help because of what I've been through.That's the way I'll always see it and continue to do outside.

"It is a fishbowl and unfortunately because of my past, I'm an easy target.

"It's up to you what you write and what you publish. Anything we do say, we get crucified."

With the sudden-death semi just three days away, Dugan will now look to re-focus on the job at hand.

"At the end of the day, we've got to get him right mentally over the next couple of days," Gallen said. "You've just got to go out there and play your game on the field."

Experience the excitement of Finals footy this weekend. Get your tickets to week 2 of the 2018 NRL Telstra Premiership Finals Series

Acknowledgement of Country

National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

Premier Partner

Media Partners

Major Partners

View All Partners