Josh Dugan emerging as surprise candidate for 5/8 role

He’s known for his scintillating form from the back for the Canberra Raiders, but given Terry Campese’s long-term injury, the Raiders are tossing up whether or not to move Dugan to 5/8 in what would be a shock move.

In a move that is sure to shock Raiders fans and NRL fans alike, it was confirmed by Raiders coach David Furner, as Campese is not expected to return until May at the earliest.

“There is the option there that ‘Duges’ could step up into that role,” Furner said.

“The big thing for Josh is that he’s got a tremendous amount of natural ability, he’s very athletic – he’s gifted in that way – and he’s also got a good footy brain.”

Canberra have been exploring a multitude of options in the halves since Campese unfortunately ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament in the semi-final against the Wests Tigers during the 2010 finals series.

After both Brett Kimmorley and Trent Barrett announced their retirement from the NRL, Matt Orford emerged as the primary candidate for the Raiders to pursue given their current lack of an experienced half.

It’s a well-known fact that after just 1 year in the ESL at Bradford, Orford is home-sick and is doing what he can to get a release from the Bradford club in order to move back to the NRL.

If Orford doesn’t end up signing with the Raiders, then it will be up to inexperienced halves Josh McCrone and Queensland Cup five-eighth Michael Picker, who spent the year playing with Souths Logan.

Furner admitted that Dugan was another choice for the five-eighth position, but he did concede that the plan was to play Dugan there anyway during pre-season in an attempt to make him a better fullback.

“He will train in that position purely to help with his education of being in those positions on the field,” Furner said.

Dugan’s move from fullback to five-eighth wouldn’t be the first time we’ve seen it, with Brisbane Broncos captain and five-eighth Darren Lockyer making a successful transition from the back to the halves.

“If I don’t need to I don’t want to drag ‘Duges’ out of position because I think he’s going to be one of the main fullbacks for this upcoming season,” Furner said.

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