‘Harsh’: Legends back Josh Dugan after Gorden Tallis spray

Gorden Tallis didn’t miss when he questioned Josh Dugan’s toughness during commentary. Now three legends have responded.

Under fire Josh Dugan has received strong support from Peter Sterling and Brad Fittler in the wake of criticism from Gorden Tallis.

Tallis sparked a controversy when he questioned if Dugan still wanted to put his body on the line after suffering another injury in Cronulla’s loss to Melbourne.

While respecting Tallis’s right to have an opinion because Tallis “played the game tougher than everybody else”, Sterling labelled the comments “harsh”, while Fittler also said he hoped Tallis might be regretting his comments.

Dugan limped from the field in the first half of Cronulla’s loss to Melbourne with a hamstring injury which is set to sideline him.

A week earlier Dugan called out critics on social media for questioning his commitment after suffering a badly bruised back.

Tallis told Fox League: “Every time I’ve watched him this year he’s down a lot and with the welfare of players now you would think that Josh Dugan is at the crossroads where he doesn’t finish a lot of games. He’s playing, what, 10 games a season for the Sharks.

“He’d be high on the salary cap, there’s got to be a discussion around does he want to be paying the price? Everyone plays injured but every time I watch him play he’s on the canvas. It’s sad watching him. Either you watch this guy go out and get beaten up every week or he goes and sits in the crowd with everybody else.”

Cronulla coach John Morris defended Dugan post match, labelling Tallis’s comments as “harsh” and pointing out that Dugan should not have played against Melbourne because of his back injury, which required painkilling injections.

Speaking on Channel 9’s Sunday Footy Show, Sterling said: “I think it is harsh when a player leaves with a hamstring to sort of give it to him in that regard (toughness).

“Early in his career, Josh Dugan, I think there were real question marks because he did stay down a lot.

“But he is a big body and he is involved in big collisions and he has played, what, 15 games this season and he has finished the vast majority of them.”

“Gorden has played the game tougher than everybody else, he is certainly entitled to his opinion.

“I think it is a little bit harsh on the back of a hamstring injury and I think he has played pretty tough most of the times I have seen him this season.”

Josh Dugan of the Sharks leaves the field injured during the Round 17 NRL match between the Melbourne Storm and the Cronulla Sharks at AAMI Park.
Josh Dugan of the Sharks leaves the field injured during the Round 17 NRL match between the Melbourne Storm and the Cronulla Sharks at AAMI Park.

Fittler added: “Duges is a drama sort of person. That is what he does.

“He is always down and ‘get up, Duges’ … it is wonderful.

“You have to be careful sometimes commentating because it is a tough game, you don’t know what he is going through …

“Gorden wouldn’t know if he is taking needles. You have to be careful. Sometimes, especially when you are commentating, you speak so much … and sometimes you get it wrong. Hopefully Gorden is sitting back thinking he might have got it wrong.”

Sam Thaiday said: “I think that any player that goes out on a rugby league field puts his body on the line. We all carry injuries into games. There was even a photo out there of Josh Dugan’s rib, of the bruises on them (see above). He is a very tough player to even be out there on the field.

“Gorden Tallis gets paid good money to make some controversial comments sometimes and Josh Dugan is just on the hit list this week.”

— Paul Crawley

Test and Origin great Gorden Tallis. Picture: Annette Dew
Test and Origin great Gorden Tallis.


What Gorden Tallis said:

• “He’s playing, what, 10 games a season for the Sharks.”

The facts:

• Dugan has played all but one game this year (15 of 16 games so far).

• Dugan played 14 games last year, his first at the Sharks.

• Dugan has averaged 17 games over the last six seasons.

• Dugan has failed to play 80 minutes in three games this year.

– He missed 13 minutes against the Eels in Round 4 due to a HIA, which he passed.

– In Round 11, he failed a concussion test following a huge hit on Tyson Frizell. Both players were forced from the field and didn’t return. Dugan was the last man in line at the time.

– Dugan played 22 minutes against the Storm in Round 17 before succumbing to a hamstring injury. He shouldn’t have played, according to coach John Morris, due to a back injury that required painkilling injections.

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