An emotional Josh Dugan has broken his silence over his controversial podcast appearance, claiming he's been an easy target for the media since his sacking from Canberra in 2013.
The Cronulla star admits being drained by the negative reporting on his string of off-field incidents, and hit out at the lack of coverage about his good deeds away from the game.
His comments come three weeks after he and teammate Andrew Fifita were handed a warning letter from the Sharks over their expletive-laden appearance on a podcast.
Dugan declined to comment on the fallout, but struggled to hold back tears as he opened up on his frustrations with the media that had been growing since his axing from the Raiders five years ago.
"Everyone's going to have their opinion of me ever since then and it's never going to change. It doesn't matter how much stuff I do outside of footy," Dugan said on Tuesday.
He spoke about how there was little coverage of him raising money for Central Coast teenager Gabe Smith, who lost his battle with brain cancer in July.
"I raised over $15,000 for a young boy not that long ago, I visited him in hospital, he passed away. You don't hear about that. It's only the bad stuff, but I'm used to it," Dugan said.
"It's just draining."
Dugan's comments also come just days after rival NRL star Darius Boyd spoke about his decreasing love for the game due to a perceived increase in criticism.
Ahead of the Sharks' NRL semi-final against Penrith on Friday, the former NSW and Kangaroos representative reckons there aren't enough positive stories being written.
"There's a few, probably one every couple of months," Dugan said.
"But other than that, I feel like negativity sells papers. I understand players are responsible for their actions and I'm responsible for my actions as well, which I have been.
"I've copped a lot of grunt for the things that I've done. I've accepted that and moved on from that. But it also doesn't help when negativity sells papers more than a (feel-good) story would."
The podcast saga was the latest in a turbulent 18 months for the 28-year-old, who was chastised for going on a drinking session during a State of Origin day off last year.
He was also axed for one game by St George Illawarra coach Paul McGregor for missing a team bus, and has suffered numerous injuries in his maiden season at the Sharks this year.
Asked if he wanted to change people's perception of him, Dugan said: "I've been trying for the last five years. I've got my own diploma in community social work.
"I've been doing stuff in the community for the last nine months, things you don't hear about."