Josh Dugan’s manager has denied starting the search for a new club for the wayward Raiders fullback, as St George Illawarra monitors the situation.
Speaking to the Mercury yesterday, Paul Sutton said he had yet to speak with Dugan about his future – let alone shop him around to NRL rivals – after he was stood down by Canberra for ‘‘breaching a number of team policies’’.
The Dragons are plotting their next move on playing and coaching personnel, after their failed pursuit of Melbourne duo Cooper Cronk and Craig Bellamy.
Sutton was unsure if Dugan was prepared to remain with the Raiders.
‘‘I’ve spoken to Canberra briefly, but I’m still yet to determine how serious this all is,’’ Sutton said.
‘‘I haven’t done anything yet, I haven’t even spoken to Josh, I’m just waiting at the moment.
‘‘The first I knew [of himself chasing other clubs for Dugan] was what I’d seen on Twitter. We’ll just have to wait and see.’’
St George Illawarra have high hopes for new fullback Gerard Beale but maintain an interest in Dugan – who has previously flirted with the prospect of playing at five-eighth – should he become available.
Dugan was a late call-up in Canberra’s season-opening loss to the Panthers on Sunday before breaching team rules about drinking while injured.
Todd Carney is another on the Dragons’ radar, as doubt grows over his long-term prospects with his current side.
The Sharks are embroiled in an ASADA investigation into drug use in 2011 and the prospect of several players receiving lengthy bans.
Carney was expected to repay the faith Shane Flanagan had shown in him after troubled stints at Canberra and the Roosters.
However, both Carney and Flanagan are in the frame to move to Wollongong, with Steve Price’s future also yet to be determined.
Flanagan was stood down by Cronulla in the wake of the recent drug allegations, causing a backlash among Sharks players and fans.
Canberra’s decision to stand down Dugan and Blake Ferguson mirrors the Bulldogs’ move to have Dally M winner Ben Barba seek professional help for off-field issues.
However, though Barba is expected to return this season, Dugan’s future at the Raiders is very much in doubt.
As the player market becomes increasingly uncertain, playmaker Jamie Soward is confident his future at the Dragons remains in his own hands.
Off contract at the end of this year, Soward vowed to kick-start St George Illawarra’s season against Brisbane on Friday in Wollongong.
This comes after his performance in the loss to Melbourne, which he admitted had been ‘‘pretty poor’’.
Soward said he was unconcerned about the prospect of the Dragons chasing Carney or Dugan.
‘‘The [Dragons] club has got to do what’s best for the club,’’ the 28-year-old said.
‘‘I’m not going to be here for the next 10 years in a playing capacity – the club has got to look after their best interests as well as I’m looking after mine.
‘‘I’m concentrating on Friday firstly and – I know it’s a bit cliche to say – that’s the immediate goal.
‘‘If I take care of things here, I’m not really worried about anyone else.’’
‘‘Most clubs are going to be looking around for playmakers because they’re pretty hard to find.’’
A 2010 premiership hero, Soward’s form launched him to a debut for NSW the following year, but was replaced by Carney last season.
Soward has previously entertained playing in England and has had approaches to play rugby union in Japan next year.
Playing for a new contract, Soward said he knew where he stood with the Dragons and chief executive Peter Doust.
‘‘I know the relationship I have got with the Dragons,’’ he said.
‘‘I’m very happy here and the relationship I’ve got with people behind the scenes, so I know what’s going on.’’
However, he admitted needing to fire against the Broncos after the 30-10 loss in Melbourne.
‘‘We’ve been training and preparing for a long time now and we went down there and couldn’t execute,’’ he said.
‘‘I’m not going to sugar coat it, we made some errors at crucial times which turned the game.
‘‘I’ve got to take responsibility for my part of it and get my kicking game right and get the ball singing when it needs to be sung.’’