“The MRIs also haven’t come back clean – they show chronic arthritis and inflammation of the bone and joint.”
The Sharks are trying to get Dugan off their books and have told him he is free to look elsewhere. The 29-year-old was on a shortlist of outside backs on the hit list of Catalans, although the French Super League outfit ultimately opted for Israel Folau.
Dugan said no one was more frustrated about the uncertainty over his playing future than himself.
“There’s been little communication since I was told I could look elsewhere and I’ve gone off the advice of the physio and doctor, so I’ll keep doing that,” Dugan said.
“I’d like clarity around it too. It’s frustrating me more than anyone and hopefully I get that next week … that’s all I have to say about the issue.”
Dugan made 23 first-grade appearances for the Sharks last year, a statistic that counters suggestions he is injury prone. The majority of those games were at fullback, although coach John Morris has indicated he will likely start with a new custodian for the upcoming season.
The Sharks have a glut of three-quarters with Dugan, Matt Moylan, Bronson Xerri, Josh Morris, Jesse Ramien, Sione Katoa and Ronaldo Mulitalo jockeying for the back-five positions.
The logjam prompted Josh Morris to request a release that would allow him to finish his career with twin brother Brett at the Roosters, an appeal the Sharks have denied. There has been ongoing speculation that the premiers would accommodate Xerri immediately to help overcome the departure of Latrell Mitchell and an ACL injury to Billy Smith, but Cronulla aren’t prepared to let him go either.
John Morris has stated his namesake is a contender to start the year as fullback, as uncertainty over Dugan and Moylan (hamstring) has them in doubt for their season opener against South Sydney at ANZ Stadium.
“Things would have to change pretty quick for [Dugan] to pull on the jumper in round one,” Morris said on Tuesday.
“I’d just like clarity on what are we looking at. What’s the diagnosis? Is it three weeks, four weeks? Is it an operation, is it not an operation? That’s all I want as coach.”
Former premiership-winning Cronulla hooker Michael Ennis said he was unsure whether Dugan had played his last game for the club.
“I always found it a strange signing, to be honest, for the Cronulla Sharks,” Ennis told Fox Sports.
“Nonetheless, it’s going to be an interesting one to see how it pans out.
“John Morris has been a real supporter of Josh Dugan throughout difficult periods for him over the last 12 months.
“Personally, I think Dugan might still play a bit of football for Cronulla, but how much? I don’t know.”
Adrian Proszenko is the Chief Rugby League Reporter for the Sydney Morning Herald.