Josh Dugan has thrown his support behind Paul McGregor amid rumours of a rift between the embattled St George Illawarra coach and Benji Marshall.
McGregor and playmaker Marshall were alleged to have had heated war of words during a video session in the wake of last week’s defeat to Brisbane, their fifth NRL loss in a row.
While fullback Dugan played down the incident, he said it was vital McGregor continue to challenge his players as they try to dig their way out of their form slump and reignite their flickering finals hopes.
It’s been speculated McGregor is fighting to save his job in the final four weeks of the regular season, however Dugan backed him as the man to take the club forward.
“He’s contracted next year and as far as I’m concerned I’ve backed him all the way,” Dugan said.
“I’ll continue to do so.
“He challenges players on whether they’re up to their standards or not and he is one person to tell you the way it is.
“That’s why I think Mary’s so good – if you don’t have your best game, he’s going to tell you.”
Dugan, who returns from a broken jaw in Saturday’s derby clash against Cronulla, played down speculation of a breakdown in the relationship between veteran playmaker Marshall and McGregor.
Marshall, who is off-contract at the end of the year, is also playing for his future after his woeful outing against the Broncos in which he made four errors – as many as the rest of his side combined.
The former New Zealand Test half on Tuesday played down the incident as a disagreement after he was singled out during a video session before having a private meeting with McGregor for an assurance he wasn’t about to be dropped.
“They’re rumours,” Dugan said.
“There’s always a little bit of conflict and we’re being challenged, we’re professional sports people. If you do make errors, you’re challenged on them.
“That’s not to say that’s what happened but I know in the past I’ve been challenged about making errors and it goes part and parcel with our job.
“I don’t think there was anything to it.”
Dugan has made just two appearances in Dragons colours since round 11 because of an elbow injury and broken jaw.
He refused to take aim at Queensland and South Sydney star Greg Inglis, who broke his jaw in a high tackle in State of Origin III, saying he was satisfied with his three-week suspension.