With a man-of-the-match performance for the St George Illawarra Dragons in their win against the Newcastle Knights, Dragons fullback Josh Dugan has raced into NSW State of Origin contention for the fullback spot, with uncertainty over whether incumbent Jarryd Hayne will be fit or not for Origin 2.
In what was an upset win over the Knights, Dugan was at his best, sparking the Dragons to a win at Hunter Stadium, scoring the game-winner when it was needed.
Playing in just his fourth game for the Dragons since being sacked by the Raiders in March, Dugan scored a total of 12 points (two tries and two conversions).
Despite his focus not being on an Origin recall, Dugan says that if Laurie Daley calls him up for that opportunity, then he will be ready.
“I think my form has shown that,” he said.
“I spent 10 weeks on the sideline but I think I have had some good performances since then.
“Since I came back my focus has been on playing well for the Dragons. I will put my best foot forward if I do get picked but I’m not going to get my hopes up. I’m just going to let my football do the talking.”
With zero tar electronic cigarettes many believing he should have sat out the entire season, the incentive for Dugan is to repay the faith that the joint venture showed in him when it mattered.
“I have always seen myself as that sort of player,” he said of his late try in which he brushed aside Knights defenders Jeremy Smith and David Fa’alogo.
“I just want to put myself in the best position for the team and do whatever I can do. We have been working on a few plays at training and a few of the boys said ‘take it yourself’ and I did.”
Full of praise for his star fullback was Steve Price, who knows just how special of a player Dugan is.
“Special players make special plays,” he said.
“That play with the crosskick to take it out of mid-air I thought that was super and to come up with a play off the scrum and beat a couple of players that’s what talented footballers do. That’s why they get paid the big bikkies.”
When asked what Dugan brings to the Dragons, the answer by Wayne Bennett was simple.
“Quality players … that’s what they do … that’s what they bring.”
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