PAUL McGregor had no choice but to dump Josh Dugan after revelations the St George Illawarra star missed the plane home from Brisbane the previous week.
McGregor has come under fire from some sections for his tough stance on Sunday ahead of a crucial game against Penrith that could have denied the Dragons a shot at playing finals football.
But The Daily Telegraph can reveal that McGregor made the decision after consultation with the senior playing group following an incident in Brisbane the previous week.
It can be revealed that Dugan did not return home with the rest of the squad following the loss to the Broncos in round 24.
Dugan was then a no-show when the Dragons’ bus was due to leave the Kogarah Leagues Club on Sunday.
McGregor spoke to his senior players who agreed that Dugan had to pay the price and be stood down for the match against the Panthers.
McGregor was coy after the game and denied that the axing followed a previous incident.
But The Daily Telegraph has since discovered missing the flight home from Brisbane had left the coach and the senior players furious.
The Dragons’ bus was due to leave Sutherland at 1pm when Dugan failed to show. The Dragons attempted to contact Dugan but ultimately had to decide to go to the game without him.
It meant that they arrived at Penrith’s Pepper Stadium later than scheduled and were basically forced to play with 16 men.
McGregor will have to make a decision on Tuesday as to whether he brings Dugan back for Sunday’s final round game against Canterbury.
In Dugan’s absence Kurt Mann was forced to switch to right centre with Josh McCrone taking Mann’s spot at halfback.
The Dragons will again be fighting for their season when they take on the Bulldogs.
A win over the Bulldogs will all but guarantee the Dragons a top-eight finish.
The only possible way the Dragons can drop out is if the Sea Eagles and Panthers draw and the Cowboys beat the Broncos.
If Dugan is overlooked he might have played his last game for the Dragons given he is joining Cronulla next year.
The Dragons could be forgiven for thinking they made the right choice not to match the Sharks’ four-year deal offered to Dugan.
Dugan was also at the centre of an incident leading up to the State of Origin decider when he went off drinking with Blake Ferguson in the build up to the game.
Laurie Daley has since paid the price for the Blues’ failed campaign.
Source: sports dailytelegraph