Dragons’ fire won’t burn new Shark Dugan
CRONULLA star Josh Dugan says he won't be unsettled by sledging from St George Illawarra players or fans when he takes on former club the Dragons for the first time.
The Dragons will storm into Shark Park full of confidence following their 34-12 win over Brisbane, looking to send Cronulla crashing to their second straight defeat.
Sharks coach Shane Flanagan yesterday revealed he would rotate Dugan and Val Holmes at fullback, after the latter's disappointing performance last week.
Dragons counterpart Paul McGregor says, regardless of where Dugan plays, the visitors will try and exploit the weaknesses of the man who spent five years with St George Illawarra.
"Saints will probably put some pressure on me out there but I am expecting that. They may try and unsettle me," Dugan said.
"I just have to play my own game and not let any outside noise get in the way. I won't be distracted or lose focus."
Dugan has seen first-hand the passion of the Dragons supporters, and says he can handle the torrid time.
"Their fans might also throw a few barbs at me but that's all right," Dugan said. "I have the back of my teammates and all the Sharks fans who will be at the game.
"The Dragons have a big and mobile forward pack with some firepower but I wouldn't swap our forwards for any in the competition. Not too many teams, if any, will get on top of our pack this year.
"It's always exciting playing against your old side. I enjoyed my time at St George Illawarra but I am now a Cronulla Shark. I'm happy and settled.
"It should be a big game. I know from my time at the Dragons that local derby matches are always special."
Dugan was coy on where he would line up.
"I'm not sure where I will be playing. That's up to Shane," Dugan said. "I know he will put me where is best for the side and what is best for our chances of winning."
Dugan will get his chance at fullback and Fox Sports Stats reveal just how effective he is there.
Dugan's has more possessions, runs, metres, tackle busts and linebreaks at fullback compared to centre over the past year. He has also scored six tries in the No. 1 jumper compared to just one when playing centre in 2017.
McGregor knows Dugan will spill the secrets about his former club, but says he will exploit Dugan's weaknesses too.
"Of course, you know his (Dugan's) habits," McGregor said. "No doubt about that. But you've got to stop them and stop what he's good at and then try and expose what he's not so good at.
"You do know a lot more knowledge about an individual when you've had him for a number of years when you're head coach."
Asked would Dugan tell new teammates classified information about Saints, McGregor said: "Of course he will. Absolutely he will."
McGregor claimed he was not sure where Dugan would line-up.
"I'm not sure to be honest. Both (he and Holmes) are very good players, both run the ball, they have a lot of ammunition, they have size and speed," McGregor said.
"They are both talented players in whatever positions they play. We have to make sure we do a job on them."
Asked did he think Holmes and Dugan would switch during the match, McGregor said: "I think we're overthinking Cronulla, to be honest. I'm not putting too much energy into 'what ifs'."
Cronulla players will wear black armbands tonight in memory of John McMartin, a former Sharks hooker who passed away last month.