Dugan insists fire still burns at Sharks

Scott Bailey
Josh Dugan remains eager to return to NRL action for Cronulla

Josh Dugan has shot back at claims he is disinterested at Cronulla, insisting he wants to prove his critics wrong as he eyes an NRL return within a fortnight.

Dugan has endured a difficult summer at the Sharks, where he says he is unable to train in consecutive days due to inflammation in his knee caused by arthritis.

The former NSW centre claims a surgeon told him retirement was one of the most likely scenarios, while another involved season-ending surgery.

But Dugan maintains he wants to play through the final two years of his deal at the Sharks and does not want to be medically retired.

Reports also emerged during the summer that the club had been frustrated by a suggested lack of effort, with the 29-year-old possibly shopped around.

"It's crap," Dugan said.

"There is a big difference between being disinterested and being disappointed with the outcomes I have had.

"While I probably wasn't 100 per cent happy with how things were going (with the injury) I turned up here every day and did my work and did what I had to do.

"It was the fact I had to be off by myself training and not being able to be out there training with the boys hurt me the most."

Dugan got through 45 minutes at training on Wednesday and plans to run again on Friday and into next week.

His return is desperately needed at Cronulla with Matt Moylan battling a calf injury and Josh Morris to leave the club for the Sydney Roosters after round two.

"The inflammation has settled down," Dugan said.

"There is no doubt in my mind that I will be back in the next few weeks playing.

"I still love the game. I still love being around the boys.

"I have always had (proving the doubters wrong) in the back of my mind ... I have done that in the past and that is probably a driving factor for me."

The looming departure of Morris will also help solve the Sharks' salary cap issues.

But Dugan said he'd never contemplated the thought of being forced to leave the club, as he insisted staff wanted him at the club.

"In my head I am contracted and was always staying," Dugan said.

"I know the club has the issues with the salary cap or whatever. For me it was a no-brainer.

"I just got married, looking to start a family soon and I am not looking to move any time soon either."