Just weeks after accusing the media of a campaign against his side, St George Illawarra coach Steve Price has angrily denied he has an issue with Jamie Soward after dumping his playmaker to the Dragons' NSW Cup side.
Speaking on the Dragons website, Price railed against the "total lies and innuendo" surrounding his relationship with Soward, who will play for the Illawarra Cutters on Saturday.
Price has kept faith with the halves pairing of Nathan Fien and Ben Hornby, who inspired the Dragons to a win over Melbourne last week, for Friday's clash with Sydney Roosters.
Soward, who has missed the last two matches with a back strain, blasted claims on Wednesday he had been faking injury.
And the usually guarded Price also came out swinging on Thursday, saying the decision to send Soward to reserve grade was for nothing other than football reasons.
"Jamie has been really struggling with his back and has been working hard to get back on the field," he said.
"He worked hard with our high performance staff and he'll go back to the Illawarra Cutters and if he pulls up well, he'll be with the Cutters on Saturday.
"We've been playing pretty well over the last few weeks and I think it's been in the best interest of the team to keep the same (halves).
"But in saying that there's been a lot of speculation and innuendo around our footy club and it is total lies. I can honestly say that.
"I've had a great relationship with Jamie and I have been honest from the outset.
"We still have big plans for Jamie in the future."
Dragons prop Dan Hunt committed his future to the club by signing a new three-year deal with the club on Thursday.