Primed: Dragons fullback Josh Dugan said the game against Penrith was crucial. Picture: Chris LaneDUGAN has never played in a final series for St George Illawarra Dragons.
He joined in mid-2013 after being sacked by Canberra Raiders, along with Blake Ferguson, now with the Sydney Roosters, for disciplinary problems.
But those days are behind him.
Speak with people at the club and they relate stories of a Dugan who is a changed man, mellowed and now a leader.
He sets the standards at training.
The NSW State of Origin fullback broke into international rugby league this year as a Kangaroos winger in the Anzac Test.
At 25, with 49 career tries and 116 games behind him (70 with Canberra, and 46 at the Dragons), Dugan is a key man in coach Paul McGregor’s armoury.
The Dragons are eighth on 24 points and walking a finals tightrope with three rounds left.
The finals charge starts tonight at 7.45 pm at WIN Stadium, Wollongong against Penrith.
Then it’s the Gold Coast Titans at Robina on Sunday, August 30, followed by the round 26 clash against Wests Tigers on Saturday, September 5, at ANZ Stadium.
“We probably have to win all three games to make the finals,” Dugan said.
“We could probably drop one game but ideally we want to win all three games.
“We are not getting too far ahead of ourselves, we are taking it one game at a time.”
Dugan said the effort was there in the 32-6 loss against Broncos on Friday night in Brisbane.
“It was disappointing losing to Brisbane. But we now have to prepare well to play Penrith.”
Dugan said with halfback Benji Marshall back, he missed Friday’s game with a hamstring tear, is a boost.
“Benji and Gaz [Gareth Widdop] play well together in attack,” he said.
The power running fullback loves to roam around the field and aims his runs down the right hand side off the field swooping on Marshall or Widdop passes.
In attack, Dugan acts like an extra centre.
Dragons second-rower Jack de Belin deputised at halfback for Marshall in Brisbane.
Though he defended well against the Broncos forwards in the midfield, de Belin isn’t a playmaker or ball player for outside supports.
De Belin starts from the interchange bench Thursday night.
WIN SOME, LOSE SOME
2016 gains: Kurt Mann (Melbourne Storm), Siliva Havili (New Zealand Warriors), Mose Masoe (St Helens).
2016 losses: Dan Hunt (retirement), Trent Merrin (Penrith Panthers), Eto Nabuli (rugby union), Charly Runciman (Widnes Vikings).
Dragons winger/centre Nathan Green, 23, has signed with Manly for the 2016 season.
Josh Dugan, Dylan Farrell, Euan Aitken, Peter Mata’utia, Justin Hunt, Gareth Widdop, Benji Marshall, Leeson Ah Mau, Mitch Rein, Mike Cooper, Tyson Frizell, Joel Thompson, Trent Merrin, Interchange: Craig Garvey, Ben Creagh (c), Jake Marketo, Jack de Belin, Mark Ioane (one to be omitted).
Are you behind the Dragons tonight?
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.