NRL Almanac – Who’s the Boss? (It’s Not Josh Dugan)

Filed in Other by on March 20, 2013

The concert started with a 63-year-old man crowd surfing during the first song. The same 63-year old danced on a piano, electrified the audience with his guitar and vocal solos, and ran around a packed arena high-fiving fans while holding the microphone and never missing a note.

He held us in the palm of his hand.

That man is Bruce Springsteen. And he’s still the Boss.

Springsteen has surrounded himself with some of the most talented musicians in the world in the E-Street Band. It was clear that balmy Sydney night that The Boss was part of a team, and that he knew it. While the crowd came for Springsteen, what they were given was a virtuoso, rousing performance by more than a dozen musicians who came to play and play hard.

At one point, lead guitarist Tom Morello – of Rage Against the Machine, joining the E-Street Band for this Australian Tour – played a searing solo reminiscent of Hendrix. He even played part of it with his teeth – his teeth!

Springsteen has said that he and his team try to keep to a “tradition of showmanship and professionalism.” He’s one of the hardest working men in music; he’s got commitment, heart, and he loves what he does.

Which brings us to Josh Dugan.

Josh Dugan grew up in Tuggeranong, Canberra. Bruce Springsteen was born to a working class family in New Jersey (where he still lives to this day). Tuggeranong isn’t Jersey, but it’s not really the right side of the tracks either – it was, after all, nominated by The Punch website as one of the top ten bogan places in Australia (full disclosure: the author was also raised in Tuggeranong).

And the Canberra Raiders are not wealthy club. They need to grow their talent locally for the most part, and with varying degrees of success, this is exactly what they have done over the decades. They find skilled youngsters from Canberra and the region and build them into first-class players.

That’s what the Raiders did for Dugan.

So, like the Boss, Dugan was a preternaturally talented youngster from the wrong side of the tracks. But that’s where the comparison ends.

Now, Josh could have been the Boss, if he’d wanted it: a champion written into the history of the Green Machine alongside the likes of Daley or Clyde or Stuart.

But if Dugan has the heart or professionalism of a champ, I haven’t seen it. According to recent media reports, neither have his team mates or coach.

Josh Dugan has been accused of missing training, feigning injury to miss training, and of ignoring team rules and coaching staff. He’s been in trouble with booze on a number of occasions. He’s been heckled by opposing players for being soft.

Many of his team mates were sick of him. I don’t blame them. The highest paid member of the Raiders – reportedly on around 650,000 a year – found it difficult to even turn up to training.

Canberra United skipper Ellie Brush expressed the frustration of professional sports people everywhere when she said, ''[Dugan's] salary would pay for our entire season budget and we would have to be twice as committed as him”.

Well, with the level of commitment to both game and home shown by Josh Dugan, I think it’d be great if he went and played Rugby Union in France. He could earn the big bucks in a soft game in a place he has no connection with. That’d suit him down to his bones.

On Monday I saw Jersey Boy Springsteen raising his fist in the air, guitar in the other, while leading 20,000 fans singing Thunder Road.

The week before I saw Josh Dugan with a Vodka Cruiser in his hand, middle finger raised at the camera and every one of his fans. Giving the finger to the town that raised him, the team that nurtured him, and the community that hung their hopes on his talent.

He’s gone now.

Good riddance.


The Raiders were walloped by the way on the weekend, 36 – 0 by the Titans. The Dugan debacle has clearly damaged team morale.

William Zillman: 3 points

Greg Bird: 2 points

Albert Kelly: 1 point


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