In light of what has transpired with Josh Dugan and to a lesser extent Blake Ferguson over the past 24 hours, armchair critics have been quick to cast judgement on both Dugan and Ferguson. And with good reason I might add.
Let’s start with Josh Dugan.
It is highly likely Dugan will be sacked and Ferguson will be punished and reprimanded but there is a process that needs to be followed to ensure from the Raiders point of view, every I has been dotted and every T has been crossed. To act in haste in a volatile situation like this would be the worst course of action the Raiders could take.
Once the matter has gone to the board and they have sought legal opinion, Dugan’s fate will be sealed but this has to be done in such a way that the board have acted responsibly and given Dugan an opportunity to present his case and it is judged on its merits.
The most likely scenario is Dugan will be stood down until round 13, then the club will terminate his contract. This means the Raiders will not have to face Dugan this year as he would not be able to sign with another club. The Raiders will also seek approval and assurances from the NRL that Dugan will not be able to play for another NRL club this year. Sounds very similar to the Todd Carney situation doesn’t it? Difference is, Carney never showed disrespect publicly to the Raiders faithful regardless of what may have transpired behind closed doors.
What will all this mean for Josh Dugan? Well, once his contract is terminated, he will look to, via his manager sign with a new club for 2014 but one thing is certain, he will not be able to command the type of money he is currently on with Canberra. His contract is estimated at 600-650k per year and he will have to take a pay cut of at least 50% next season and beyond just to secure a spot with another NRL team. Other NRL teams know they are taking a significant risk by signing Dugan and behavioural clauses will be inserted to ensure Dugan adheres to a code of conduct.
For those of you who are wondering if Dugan shows enough remorse and contrition for his sins, will he stay in Canberra. The answer is no. The Raiders board have a responsibility to act in the best interests of the club, the players, the fans and the sponsors. If Dugan were to stay, there would be considerable unrest in the playing group and the very real possibility of sponsors walking away as they do not want to be associated with a tarnished brand that cannot control their employees.
Raiders fans have seen the last of Josh Dugan in lime green and in the long run, this is the best and only decision the Raiders could make. The knock on effect is it gives the Raiders cash to re-sign off contract players and secure the futures of up and coming juniors such as Anthony Milford and Mitch Cornish. Short term pain for long term gain.
What will happen to Blake Ferguson? Hard to say but the likely outcome is Ferguson will be stood down for a prolonged period and a monetary fine imposed. The Raiders want to keep Ferguson and see how he behaves on a very short leash minus the presence of Josh Dugan. This will be his final chance though and any more indiscretions and he will also be shown the door.
Raiders management have to take a tough stance on this to demonstrate to younger players rising through the ranks that talent does not equate to unlimited privelege and that with poor behaviour comes consequences.
It is a cliche, but no one player is bigger than the club. It’s time ALL players learnt this simple but valuable lesson.