Queensland coach urges Dragons to keep Josh Dugan
THERE'S a way St George Illawarra can keep Josh Dugan that would allow the superstar to collect his pay day.
Follow the Melbourne roster model.
For many years the Storm have built their roster around injecting big money into their spine and filling the supporting roles with world-beaters, up-and-comers and those on the fringe - a cast capable of carrying out a simplified task.
With Dugan still off-contract and chasing $1 million a season, Queensland coach Kevin Walters has called for the Dragons to do whatever it takes to keep Dugan in the Red V.
"They've got to keep him," Walters declared on NRL360.
"There's obviously a good relationship between the coach and player. He needs to stay there."
The Dragons, however, are standing firm on their three-year offer worth $2.2 million, which was tabled months ago.
But should they move heaven and earth to re-sign one of the game's genuine superstars?
When it comes to fullbacks, aside from Darius Boyd and Billy Slater, who'll both stay with their respective clubs, Dugan is the premier No.1 without a deal for 2018.
The biggest issue facing the Dragons is their salary cap for 2018 is quickly filling up.
Last week they re-signed their skipper Gareth Widdop to a four-year-deal worth $3.6 million and have Brisbane No.7 Ben Hunt heading south at the end of the year on a five-year deal worth more than $1 million per season.
Aside from Dugan, they still have another 14 players off-contract this year.
They are Kalifa Faifai Loa, Yaw Kiti Glymin, Siliva Havili, Drew Hutchison, Tim Lafai, Kurt Mann, Jake Marketo, Mose Masoe, Will Matthews, Tyrone McCarthy, Josh McCrone, Taane Milne, Jason Nightingale and Russell Packer.
Both Milne and Packer have caught the attention of Wests Tigers, while it's understood Lafai has caught the attention of two Sydney clubs.
While one man can't carry a roster, he can be a real influence.
And of all the men still off-contract, Dugan is the elite.
On his day, the NSW Origin and Test centre can flip a game on its head.
He's a special kind of player the Dragons need and that's why Walters believes Dragons director of rugby league pathways Ian Millward needs do whatever it takes to find some extra cash to strike a deal.
"(Dugan's) one of the reasons they've been so successful and that momentum has continued without him playing," Walters said.
"Laurie (Daley's) had him in the NSW side (and) Mal (Meninga's) had him in the Australian team.
"He's one of those elite players.
"I'd be re-signing him. I'd be finding some money."