NSW fullback Josh Dugan has spoken about how close he came to defecting to rugby, revealing he was tempted to escape the fishbowl existence of the NRL.
Dugan will wear the No.1 jersey for the Blues on Wednesday night, but could have been lost to the game altogether after being cut by Canberra. When the Broncos pulled their offer following another rant on social media, the 23-year-old gave serious consideration to playing the 15-man code overseas.
''I'd spoken to a couple of French rugby clubs, that was one of the options,'' Dugan said.
''When the Broncos deal fell through, it was a big option to go over there. I was in two minds about it. I was copping a lot of heat from the media and people when I was still in Canberra, so it would have been a chance to get away from everything, get out of the spotlight. There were English Super League clubs as well.
''It would have been an out for me. I grew up playing rugby, I played rugby before I played rugby league, so it wouldn't have been too bad. To be honest I probably would have saved my body a bit, too.''
Dugan, who said escaping from the public scrutiny was a ''massive part of the appeal'', would not rule out switching codes in the future.
''It's a possibility,'' he said. ''You always have to look after yourself and set yourself up for the future.
'''Izzy' Folau, when he killed it in the first game against the Lions, he only had 11 touches and he scored twice. He's a freak of a talent and I'd love to see him back in league one day.
''At the moment my future is at St George and that's where I'm looking to stay.''
Dugan is contracted to the Dragons only until the end of the season. However, he is keen to repay the faith shown to him when they were the only NRL club prepared to take him on.
''At the moment it's just for this year but it will work out for the next few,'' he said. ''We're just working out the last few chinks in the contract. The roster we have next year is exciting and I want to be a part of it. I want to show a bit of appreciation and repay the faith.''
In what he describes as a ''roller-coaster'' journey, the Tuggeranong product has the chance to make history when he marks up against Storm counterpart Billy Slater.
''Billy is a great player, always been one of the best fullbacks in the game,'' Dugan said. ''I love coming up against him and the other good fullbacks. It's a challenge and you make it a personal vendetta to get one up on him. I'd love to get one up on him on Wednesday and get a series win.''
If the Blues etch themselves into folklore, Dugan might make another etching on his heavily tattooed body.
''I'd have to see if a few of the boys are getting one,'' he chuckled. ''We'll have to wait until next Wednesday and see if we get the win and break the drought and go down in history.''