Under-pressure Dragons coach Steve Price has kept faith in his struggling attack as the chase for wayward NSW representative Josh Dugan intensifies.
Trying to break the 13-year Canberra hoodoo while securing the Dragons’ first victory of the season, Price named the same 18-man line-up for Sunday night’s game against the Raiders.
St George Illawarra struggled to crack the Broncos’ defence, despite a weight of first-half possession, in the 22-6 loss at WIN Stadium on Friday.
While Price tries to remedy the misfiring plays, the club has moved to secure sacked Raiders fullback Dugan.
Yesterday chief executive Peter Doust would not comment on speculation that he and Price had met with Dugan in Wollongong in the morning.
Dugan is believed to have also attracted interest from Brisbane and Gold Coast.
But it may be weeks before he is back on the field, as any deal must follow an Australian Rugby League Commission process before he is registered with any new club in Australia.
The Raiders, in an attempt to delay any deal with a new club, have submitted a report to the ARLC listing numerous alleged misdemeanours during Dugan’s time with Canberra.
However, the ARLC will also consider the player’s undertakings as part of a deal with an NRL rival before they decide whether Dugan should be handed a ban.
Even if Dugan does avoid any suspension after being sacked for drinking with now ex-teammate Blake Ferguson while injured, any new contract would have to be approved by NRL salary cap auditor Ian Schubert.
Neither Dugan nor his manager Paul Sutton answered the Mercury’s calls or text messages yesterday.
It is believed Dugan will be offered a contract by the Dragons, but not to the value of the $650,000 per season he earned at the Raiders.
Most St George Illawarra board members have endorsed the push for Dugan.
Meanwhile, Price will try to jump-start the Dragons’ season at Canberra Stadium, where they haven’t won since July 2000.
Halfback Nathan Fien said St George Illawarra fans should be patient as he and five-eighth Jamie Soward work with coach Price on finding solutions to their lack of try-scoring this season.
‘‘Unfortunately for us the last pass isn’t sticking,’’ he said.
‘‘We’ve got a few communication problems – I don’t know if that’s the issue.
‘‘We’re just missing the mark at the moment.
‘‘We’re all in it together and it’s only round two of the competition – and if it was easy everyone would be doing it.’’
Price named Trent Merrin at lock and Michael Weyman to start in the front row, even though ex-Raider Bronson Harrison and prop Leeson Ah Mau were in the run-on team in the opening two rounds.