Paul McGregor insists there is no bad blood with Josh Dugan, heading into the Kangaroos centre's grudge match against St George Illawarra.
Dugan will play his first game against the Dragons for Cronulla on Thursday night, since leaving the Red V at the end of last year after claiming he would not receive world-class money while categorised as a centre at the club.
Dugan's final weeks at the Dragons were also controversial, after he was dropped for last year's round-25 clash with Penrith when he missed the team bus.
There were also reports the 27-year-old had failed to return home on the plane with the team from Brisbane the previous week.
But when asked on Thursday about the pair's relationship, Dragons coach McGregor insisted they were on good terms after Dugan's exit from the club.
"I am," McGregor said.
"As a professional sportsman you feel you know your own worth, and it's what happens in professional sport. Players change clubs, coaches change positions.
"With Josh he felt he required a certain amount of money which they didn't come to terms with, so he moved to another club where he got what he needed.
"I wish him all the best ... Except for tomorrow night."
Dugan scored 28 tries in 84 games for the Dragons, playing mostly at fullback in his five-year stay with brief stints in the centres at the end of 2014 and 2017.
He will shift back to the No.1 spot for much of the derby, after Cronulla coach Shane Flanagan said the role would be shared with Valentine Holmes.
The Sharks coach noticed a lift in energy from Dugan at training this week while McGregor also expected the club's former big-name back to be pumped up.
But Flanagan said that had to be kept in check after the rivals fought out two nail-biters last year.
"I talk to all the players who come up against their previous clubs, and I've been doing it for years," Flanagan said.
"It's not a personal battle, we've got to make sure we go out there and do the best thing for the team.
"If it starts to become personal then you start to lose focus on the Cronulla Sharks, you're not going to do your job."