Dragons and NSW star Josh Dugan.
Dragons and NSW star Josh Dugan. DAVE HUNT

Dragons coach defends Dugan over Origin bender

ST GEORGE Illawarra coach Paul McGregor has gone into bat for his embattled star Josh Dugan.

The Blues centre has come under fire for his drinking session with NSW teammate Blake Ferguson before game three of this year's State of Origin series.

Ahead of his side's clash with the Sea Eagles on Sunday, McGregor was happy to leave the controversy in the past.

"He knows how I feel on the matter," McGregor said of the Dragons fullback.

"That was a different environment."

McGregor said he had a perfect record in his five years in the Red V after a troubled time with the Canberra Raiders.

"Has he ever been in trouble since he has been at the club and I've been coaching here? No," he said.

"I'm just looking after my club and my team and he hasn't done anything wrong here."

Dugan, who returned to Dragons training on Thursday, had earlier hit back at critics - some of whom are calling for his suspension from Origin.

"It is easy to point the finger from the outside without all the facts," Dugan posted to Instagram.

"We are human too and make mistakes, no one is perfect.

"I've put my hand up for an error in judgment but at the end of the day did not break any rules or misbehave, simply we as a squad did not perform.

"I respect my peers, coaching staff and wear my heart on my sleeve anytime I run onto that field regardless of what jersey I have on anyone close to me knows that."