DEPARTING Dragons centre Josh Dugan remains in the World Cup selection frame after being named in Mal Meninga’s Prime Minister’s XIII squad on Wednesday.
Dugan, who will link with Cronulla on a four-year deal from 2018, endured a tumultuous second half of the season with dramas arising both in camp with NSW and with the Dragons.
The 28-year-old attracted criticism for a drinking session with NSW teammate Blake Ferguson prior to the Blues Origin III flogging while he was also stood down from the Dragons round 25 victory over Penrith after missing the team bus.
It was thought the lapses in discipline may count against him at the World Cup selection table but Meninga has maintained faith in his incumbent Test right centre.
“He’s remorseful, there’s no doubt about that,” Meninga said when asked about the fallout from Blues camp.
“He put his hand up and admitted he was wrong in this instance, which is worthy. He’s done nothing wrong by the Kangaroos and our ethos.
“That’s why he’s here. He’s been a very valuable player in the green and gold jersey and I expect him to be in the future as well.”
Dugan played that position at last year’s Four Nations and in May’s mid-season Test, in which he scored a try before suffering a broken cheekbone.
Dugan’s ability to play fullback would also boost his selection chances as Meninga considers a host of quality No. 1s for the end of season tournament.
"I always learned off Bob Fulton, just pick your best players and fit them in,” Meninga told Fairfax Media.
“It's a difficult one, we've got so many great fullbacks in the competition. Tom Trbojevic is another good example, Josh Dugan’s best position is probably fullback as well. Val Holmes plays fullback for Cronulla.
“We'll find a place for some of them, we can't find a place for all of them, that's the unfortunate nature of the beast. We can only pick 24 players. It's a bit of a dilemma but they say it's a good dilemma."
Dragons prop Paul Vaughan was also rewarded for a stellar 2017 campaign with selection for the trip to Papua New Guinea where he’ll be one of six debutants.