Dugan weighs in for Price

RUGBY LEAGUE

Bulked-up St George Illawarra fullback Josh Dugan wants to carry more weight into next NRL season, and he's throwing all of it behind under-pressure coach Steve Price.

Dugan said Price had the full support of a revamped Dragons squad.

He pointed out that the coach wouldn't still be in charge if the players weren't on board.

Price survived a coaching review at the end of the season after the club missed out on the finals but will want a fast start to 2014.

Emerging from Wayne Bennett's shadow has proven difficult for Price, but he now believes he has the team he wants, with quality recruits joining the side for next year.

St George Illawarra also welcome back Gerard Beale and Kyle Stanley from long-term injuries, with Dugan tipping the scales at 101.5kg, nearly 5 kilograms more than he weighed last season.

The NSW No 1 is a collision player and believes the heavier frame can help him avoid injury and gain a physical edge over opponents.

Dugan says the Dragons are looking to get off to a fast start and keep the heat off their coach.

"I don't really think he'd [Price] be there if he didn't have the support of the players," Dugan said.

"He's got every player behind him backing him 100 per cent.

"He's changed a few things up this year and I think it'll be for the better."

Beale, who is aiming for a centre berth in his comeback from an ACL tear in 2013, says the players want to show Price that he is loved by them.

"We really love him and we're keen to go hard for him and especially for the Dragons as well," he said.

"It's a really proud club and we want to make sure we have a really good result."

Beale, Stanley and Dugan all attended Arncliffe Public School yesterday to help promote the Jump Rope for Heart program.

Dugan predicted a jump for the Dragons with a return to the top eight.

He also promised a more consistent year from himself after last season where he was sacked by the Canberra Raiders.

"I missed 10-11 weeks last year and it was a bit disruptive.

"It took me a few weeks to get my match fitness back," Dugan said. 

AAP

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