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Sharks centre Josh Dugan.

Josh Dugan was on a list of backs being considered by Catalans before the French Super League club’s controversial signing of Israel Folau but the Sharks star wanted to stay put.

Now as the NRL season approaches, Dugan may again be asked to make a decision about his future after a meeting between Cronulla officials and his manager Paul Sutton.

With boom centre Jesse Ramien returning to the club this season, the Sharks have an over-supply of outside backs and eventually someone is expected to leave.

Cronulla officials are determined to ensure it is not rookie sensation Bronson Xerri and they have only recently signed Ramien, while veteran centre Josh Morris is considered a good mentor for the club’s young talent.

Significantly, Morris is believed to be on about half of Dugan’s reported $800,000 per year contract, which expires at the end of the 2021 season.

Having been impacted by salary cap restrictions from a penalty imposed in 2018, it would appear to make financial sense for Cronulla if Dugan was the one to depart.

However, it is unlikely the 29-year-old could command the same pay packet elsewhere, which is why he never seriously entertained a move to Catalans, who are paying Folau about $400,000 this season.

The RLPA reached out to offer support to Dugan on Wednesday after he vented his frustration on social media over reports of a falling out with teammates.

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Dugan is a former NSW Origin fullback but Matt Moylan is first choice for the Sharks No.1 jersey and while many believe he could have an impact on the wing similar to Blake Ferguson, it is not his preferred position.

The Sharks also boast two exciting wingers in Ronaldo Mulitalo and Sione Katoa, while Will Kennedy is another talented youngster in their squad.

After missing some training due to niggling injuries during the off-season, it is thought that Dugan now faces an uphill battle for selection in Cronulla coach John Morris’s opening round team.

“Those who work the hardest will get rewarded with those jumpers," Morris recently told reporters.

"It's a competition and I can't be any more blunt than that. I've made it pretty clear that I don't really care too much about reputations.

Sharks young gun Bronson Xerri.
Sharks young gun Bronson Xerri.

"I respect all those guys as really quality players and it's going to be a good battle to get those jumpers."

While Dugan has a reputation for being injury-prone, that criticism is unfair given that he played 23 matches for Cronulla last season.

Catalans coach Steve McNamara confirmed Dugan had been considered before Folau after the club released Fiji centre Brayden Williame to join St George Illawarra.

“We knew it would be controversial," McNamara told Sky Sports UK.

"An opportunity arose when an overseas player left our club, we needed an outside back. We looked in France, England and overseas. We went down the route of investigating a fair few players, Israel was on that list.”

 

The views in this article do not necessarily express the opinions of the NRL, ARLC, NRL clubs or state associations.