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Dugan open to rugby switch but Sharks remain first choice

While TJ Perenara is sounding out an NRL switch, off-contract Cronulla veteran Josh Dugan has gained insight from the All Black into playing Japanese rugby.

Dugan, 30, has reiterated that he wants to "secure a couple more years" at the Sharks but is considering his options, including rugby.

The centre played the 15-man code in his youth and told News Corp in 2017 that he almost headed to Japan on a rich deal before deciding to leave St George Illawarra and join Cronulla the following year.

Dugan regularly chats to Perenara, who is plying his trade for the NTT Docomo Red Hurricanes in Japan but has been linked to the Roosters.

"I'm open to it [rugby]. My first priority would be to stay here in Sydney, but as a player, you only have a certain shelf life," Dugan said.

"You have to do what you can to set yourself up for the future.

"I grew up playing rugby. I actually played rugby before I played rugby league. I made all the rep sides as a kid for rugby and went to a rugby-dominated school with Marist Brothers in Canberra.

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"All this COVID stuff's probably thrown a spanner in the works a little bit with [playing overseas], but I have been talking to TJ Perenara and [fellow All Black] Aaron Smith, a couple of the boys.

"We've got a WhatsApp group where we all talk crap and have a laugh ... We've got a group of NBA card collectors, we talk about that and crypto. Whatever pops up in the world we're usually talking about it."

Dugan has also spoken with Cronulla's latest recruit Will Chambers, who returned to the NRL this week after a stint with the Suntory Sungoliath team in Japan's Top League competition.

COVID-19 caused the league to shut down in 2020 and Dugan said Chambers, a former Storm star, described himself as a "professional trainer" because of an international player quota.

As for Perenara's mooted NRL move, Dugan said: "I think he's keeping his options open as well. As professional athletes, you have to - especially in a sport as cutthroat as rugby union and rugby league".

The Roosters would likely use Perenara in a dummy-half role.

Dugan has been named to face the Bulldogs on Saturday after missing last week's loss to Newcastle due to two head knocks in two weeks.

"I had a few headaches and low energy," Dugan said.

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"I didn’t come good until Friday. I came in on Monday and did what I had to. I passed all the tests with the doc. Everything has gone to plan.

"I felt alright after the Cowboys knock [in round four] but after the back-to-back [knocks] rolling into one, I was feeling fatigued. It wasn't ideal. I'm not too worried. They weren’t bad ones where I went out.

"They were just ones that sparked me. I was a bit dizzy. I'm pretty confident I'll get through this week."