JOSH Dugan is set to make his return to the NRL this weekend after the troubled star signed with St George Illawarra today.
The Dragons today announced the signing of former NSW fullback Dugan for the rest of this season.
Dragons coach Steve Price said he was considering a start this weekend for Dugan, who turns 23 today.
The ex-Canberra star hasn't played since being sacked by the Raiders earlier this season over his off-field behaviour.
The Dragons meet Gold Coast at Skilled Park on Sunday and Price indicated he was preparing to include Dugan in his side.
"We will have our captain's run tomorrow before we go to the Gold Coast tomorrow and I will make a decision then ... I'm not writing it off,'' Price said.
"I just have to get a gauge on where Josh is at. He is in a really good head space. He has been training behind the scenes on his own.
"I'll have a look at him tomorrow and make a decision then.''
Price said the Dragons were not taking a risk signing Dugan on a deal until the end of the year after he was sacked by Canberra in March for a series of discipline breaches.
"He is a real talent and of all the meetings I have had with Josh he is a 10 out of 10 bloke. Everybody makes mistakes and Josh made one of those and he deserves a second chance,'' Price said.
Dugan expressed remorse over his acrimonious departure from Canberra and said he was grateful to be given a new lease of life with the Dragons.
"It's relief ... and I'm just excited about the opportunity and to be given a second chance,'' Dugan said.
"I have had a lot of time to think about how things went down and I probably could have done things a little better.
"But in saying that, I'm very thankful for the time I have had at the Raiders and I'm very thankful for the opportunity the Dragons have given me.''
Dugan initially knocked back an approach from St George Illawarra in favour of an offer from Brisbane, but the Broncos withdrew their interest when Dugan was involved in an ugly exchange on social media.
He will now resume his career at the Dragons, the club he supported as a boy.
"I have played with a few of the Dragons boys before and am keen to meet the others and play my part in the team," Dugan said.
"I grew up a Dragons fan, my whole family supports the Dragons and I am well aware of the pride and history associated with the club and what the Club expects from me."
Dragons chief executive Peter Doust said the club had undertaken extensive due diligence before offering Dugan a contract.
"The decision to sign Josh has been taken after thorough investigations of all relevant particulars," said Doust.
"We conducted numerous formal interviews with Josh and had detailed discussions with the NRL, including the review of the outcomes of rehabilitation processes that have been undertaken regularly, over more than nine weeks.
"We believe it is important to note that Josh's breaches were not of an illegal nature, but rather breaches arising due to poor discipline and decisions.
"Josh is a young guy who acknowledges that he has had some problems and that he could have made better decisions along the way but he has taken some positive steps towards addressing the areas for concern and is looking for a second chance.
"We believe we can deliver a fresh start, supported by our club's well-established processes in player welfare management with ongoing education programs, continuing with what Josh has started at the NRL.
"We have also consulted the NRL, in particular their Education and Welfare Department, with whom Josh has been working since he finished with Canberra and we are fully conversant with the requirements of a successful outcome for all, in the future.
"In conjunction with the NRL, Josh has been working with a career adviser in recent times and has expressed a desire to find a suitable education path with the Dragons.
"Our club has 16 players studying at University & our Graduates of League Program was established by our captain Ben Creagh in conjunction with the University of Wollongong, enabling our players to align their training and study commitments with the support of specialised tutors.
"A further 14 players are studying a diploma, 23 are players are studying for various certificate 1-4 qualifications and nine are in apprenticeship or traineeship programs."
Doust indicated that the playing group had been consulted on the decision and said Dugan would be required to adhere to the club's social media policy.
"We consulted our players who have played with Josh in representative teams or with him at the Raiders," said Doust.
"The entire senior leadership group has also been consulted and we all agree, after understanding the circumstances and processes, that Josh could be provided the opportunity to join the Dragons."
"We recognise that social media is a contemporary method of communication that can be extremely positive for communication when used responsibly, particularly for athletes in communicating with their fans.
"There will not be a ban at the club for Josh however, he will be required to adhere to the Club's comprehensive social media and communications policies and be involved in ongoing education in this area, in particular."
Edited by R L Winger, 10 May 2013 - 07:41 AM.