Dugan's redemption: Josh wants to prove worth to Dragons

Josh Dugan runs on to GIO Stadium in Canberra for the first time after being sacked by the club early last season. Picture: GRAHAM TIDY

Josh Dugan runs on to GIO Stadium in Canberra for the first time after being sacked by the club early last season. Picture: GRAHAM TIDY

RUGBY LEAGUE

Reformed Dragons star Josh Dugan believes Friday's match with Brisbane more than a year after they abruptly cut his first NRL lifeline will show just how far his rugby league redemption has come.

Two weeks after returning home to Canberra for the first time since being sacked by his junior club, Dugan will be aiming to come back and bite another former club of sorts - the Broncos - 18 months after they ripped a lucrative three-year deal off the table.

Dugan admits telling a Raiders fan to "end yourself" on social media - an act that cost him his second NRL contract in the space of three weeks - was an unwise decision but one he's learned from.

"That's the thing, you live and you learn from your mistakes and you grow from them," Dugan said.

"That was a pretty big mistake on my behalf but I've learned from it and I feel I've become a better player and a better person."

It was a mistake for which he paid a hefty price, but Dugan credits his ascension to a leadership role in his second coming with the Dragons for resurrecting his career.

"Being named in the [Dragons] senior leadership group, that's a massive responsibility to make sure you're doing the right things by the playing group so that they have that faith in you," he said.

"That's something that I don't want to lose; the players' faith in me and their confidence in me.

"I know that there's people relying on me and who have that faith and confidence in me, and I do take that upon myself a lot more these days."

It's a role the 24-year-old takes seriously and, with the Dragons still battling for their finals future, Dugan is well aware that he is the player others will look to for leadership in the crucial moments.

"I'm pretty happy doing that and being that sort of player and person," he said.

"I've always been one to jump at a challenge and also try and get the whole group up and going.

"That's just something that's always been in my character.

"I hate losing and I've always fought as very hard as I can to win."

Raiders coach Ricky Stuart publicly bemoaned the loss of the NSW Origin star following the Dragons' thumping victory over the Canberra side.

With the finals axe hanging over both sides, Dugan may yet come back to haunt the Broncos in a similar fashion on Friday.

While he has every intention of sinking their finals hopes, Dugan said he's not motivated by the desire to show the Broncos what they missed out on.

"No, not really, that's all in the past for me. I'm in a better place on and off the field and I really couldn't be any happier at the moment," he said.

"I'm just loving my footy and loving everything about being here at the Dragons."

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