‘He’s human like everyone else’
CRONULLA captain Paul Gallen insists its imperative the playing group rally around teammate Josh Dugan following his emotional outburst at media negativity in the game.
Dugan battled tears as he opened up on his struggles on the battering his reputation has taken since being sacked by Canberra in 2013. Gallen admits Dugan has this year been heavily burdened not only by an injury-riddled first season at the Sharks, but also by the off-field pressures.
"He's always got a bit going on. He does stress about things. He does stress about the way he's treated by certain parts of the media, how public perceive him at times," Gallen said.
"You probably saw in that interview, he's human like everyone else and sometimes emotions can get the better of you and wear you down.
"And I think that's what's happened to him throughout this year."
Dugan's comments come ahead of the Sharks' semi-final against Penrith, where a loss would knock them out of the race for a second premiership in three years.
Gallen, who was at pains to point out the hours of community work the club does during the year, said the priority is to look after Dugan's wellbeing.
"I know how much Duges does for other people," Gallen said.
"He doesn't go looking for the limelight. He doesn't have a camera behind his back when he sees a kid in hospital.
"Other people don't understand that. When he gets bagged, he finds it hard to take because he knows how much he does.
"At the end of the day, we've just got to get him right mentally over the next couple of days and he's got to go out there and play his game on the field."
Sydney Roosters veteran Cooper Cronk weighed in on the saga, saying players handle criticism differently to others but need to access available support networks during tough times.
"Part of the exposure is the fact that players get paid handsomely for what we do," he said.
"If you want to complain or get upset about the exposure, then I think you probably hand back half your pay cheque because without that you don't get it.
"On the other side, everyone has a right to an opinion, but the individual determines whether they cross the line or not.
"Have people crossed the line? Rightly so. Have players done the wrong thing and deserved it, rightly so. At the end of the day we're all here to try make the NRL as best as it possibly can."