The St. George Illawarra Dragons will not fight to retain Josh Dugan beyond the end of the 2017 Telstra NRL Premiership competition, claiming that they do not have the ability to match or surpass the generosity of the 2016 premier Cronulla Sharks.

Odd, that such an event could take place in the salary cap era. Premiers are supposed to be strapped and scrambling to find funds to pay proven players, and low-rungers such as the Dragons should have the money to poach the big names from the winning teams.

The word on the street that the Sharks tabled at four-year, four-million dollar offer to Dugan perhaps says more about the financial footing of the Dragons than it does about any salary cap issues that may confront the Sharks.

The Dragons did their best to a point, as contract talks between they and Dugan have been going on for six or seven months.

Dugan had an easy decision, as the Dragons could muster no more than $700,000 per season for three years.

The Sharks could well use Dugan, as they anticipate losing the impressive young gun jack Bird to the Broncos.

Dugan has been impressive with state and international teams as the cream of the crop amongst centres, but the opportunity to play fullback for the Sharks, along with a hefty rise in pay and tenure, obviously tilted the balance in the Sharks’ direction.