Josh Dugan and Blake Ferguson’s decision to drink on their day off during NSW State of Origin III camp was wrong, according to their respective NRL club coaches.
Sydney Roosters coach Trent Robinson revealed meeting with Ferguson to explain how his visit to a north-coast NSW pub had affected his individual preparation for the decider.
“He didn’t associate that with affecting the game,” Robinson said on Thursday.
“It was their time off and they didn’t have any rules around any of that sort of stuff. There’s some responsibility there.
“He agrees that it wasn’t the right choice to be made going into an Origin game.”
St George Illawarra coach Paul McGregor also met with Dugan to discuss his reported six-hour stint at Lennox Point Hotel, five days before the Origin defeat.
“He knows how I feel on the matter,” McGregor said.
“That was a different environment and what happened there was Josh’s choice. Has he done anything wrong? No one can answer that.”
McGregor pointed out that Dugan had a clean rap sheet since joining the Dragons in 2013.
“Has he ever been in trouble since he has been at the club and I’ve been coaching here? No. I’m just looking after my club and my team and he hasn’t done anything wrong here,” he said.
McGregor also questioned former NSW coach Ricky Stuart’s comments, who argued both Dugan and Ferguson should have been banned from Origin selection because of their history.
Ferguson was dumped from NSW after one Origin game in 2013 after he indecently assaulted a woman on a night out with Dugan.
“They’re bringing up something from four years ago now,” McGregor said.
McGregor’s views come after Dugan took to social media on Tuesday to take aim at his critics.
“It is easy to point the finger from the outside without all the facts,” Dugan posted on Instagram.
“No matter who the comments harm, true/false, they are said without a blink of an eye. Some journalists think they are untouchable while others actually have decency.
“We are human too and make mistakes, no one is perfect.
“I’ve put my hand up for an error in judgement but at the end of the day did not break any rules or misbehave, simply we as a squad did not perform.”
Robinson believes it is important players be given the freedom to make choices when in representative camps, but denied the incident played a role in their game three performance.
“People are trying to associate them drinking with NSW losing. That’s a long bow, but I think they made a poor choice about preparation for the game,” he said.
“Queensland were the better team. They obviously prepared better, they played better and they deserve to win. I don’t think that would’ve changed the result.
“Would it have improved it a bit? In my view, possibly.”