MATTHEW Johns has urged Paul McGregor to make another brave call with the Dragons’ finals hopes hanging in the balance, as Josh Dugan awaits a decision on his place in the club’s round 26 line up.
After a gritty win over the Panthers, St George Illawarra have given themselves a big chance of finishing in the top eight if they can pick up another two points in their clash with the Bulldogs on Sunday.
With Manly and Penrith playing each other and both with inferior for and against to the Dragons, McGregor’s men are almost certain to be playing for a spot in the finals come Sunday.
Only a Saturday night draw between the Panthers and Sea Eagles and a win for the Cowboys over the Broncos on Thursday could end the Dragons’ season early.
The stakes are massive but Johns wouldn’t be taking the easy option of restoring Dugan to the line-up after he was stood down for missing the team bus on Sunday.
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“Here’s the question, they’ve won 16-14, do you play him next week?” Johns asked on Triple M’s The Grill Team.
“I think I’d have to leave him out. If I’m Paul McGregor and I’ve got there and I’ve gone to the leadership group and said to them, ‘you tell me what I do with this bloke’ and they’ve said, ‘no, he’s out of the team’, for mine you can’t then drop one of those players and put him back into the team.
“It’s a big call coming up.”
Former Panthers hard man Mark Geyer agreed, suggesting Dugan’s Dragons career should be cut short ahead of his move to the Sharks.
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“Obviously the boys got together on the bus out there, the leadership group, and said ‘you know what, we’re probably better off without this bloke — he’s leaving next year, let’s start life without him right now’,” Geyer said.
“I wouldn’t play him, no. For me, he’d be done. It’s a big game, get on the bus.
“You’ve got to give him some type of punishment. Who you going to drop from a winning team?”
Speaking immediately after the Dragons’ win over the Panthers, McGregor gave quite different answers when asked in two separate interviews if Dugan would be back in the line-up for round 26.
It’s likely a decision hasn’t yet been made and both options are in play.
“He’s done his punishment now, he’s missed a game of footy, he’ll be hurting pretty hard in there, letting the players down, so, yeah, he’s a world class player, isn’t he,” McGregor told Fox League’s Matt Russell.
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Then in his press conference he muddied the waters.
“Next week’s next week,” McGregor said. “Let’s worry about celebrating tonight.”
McGregor evaded questions when asked if Dugan’s dumping was a result of a repeat offence or a one-off indiscretion.
However, according to a report in The Daily Telegraph the rep star had missed the plane after the Dragons’ loss to the Broncos a week earlier, which was taken into consideration by McGregor and his senior players.
Originally published as Punishment over? Matty’s verdict on Dugan call
Source: sports dailytelegraph