Cowboys wish granted as Dugan ruled out - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Cowboys wish granted as Dugan ruled out

By Laine Clark 11/06/2010 05:25:24 PM Comments (0)

One wish has already been granted for North Queensland coach Neil Henry - now if he could just pull off another nine.

Statistics show second-last North Queensland need at least nine wins from their final 14 games to keep their NRL finals hopes alive, starting with Canberra at Townsville on Saturday night.

But the Cowboys were celebrating a small victory ahead of the Raiders clash after Canberra dangerman Josh Dugan (knee) did not fly out of the national capital on Friday.

Henry wasn't sure whether Dugan had joined his Canberra teammates when he fronted the media on Friday morning - but it was clear what verdict he wanted from the NSW Origin hopeful's fitness test.

"Certainly he is a fantastic young player who has got a lot of metres in him - so we are probably hoping his knee isn't right," Henry laughed.

Dugan, 20, has been replaced by David Milne.

It capped a rollercoaster week for Dugan who was named in an extended NSW squad, only to be bumped soon after when Eels No.1 Jarryd Hayne was cleared of headbutting.

Days after hoping to make his Origin debut, the youngster is sweating on when he can play again.

A Raiders spokesman told AAP on Friday that Canberra would assess Dugan's knee again next week before determining when the Raiders strike weapon would be available for NRL action again.

It robs Townsville fans of the blockbuster fullback duel between Dugan and Cowboys livewire Matt Bowen.

But it will clearly be music to the ears of Henry as he tries to spark his underperforming Cowboys.

If not for salary cap rorters Melbourne, North Queensland (3-9 record) would be dead last.

And their hopes of breaking a four-game losing run at home don't appear good without their Origin stars Johnathan Thurston, Luke O'Donnell, Willie Tonga and Matt Scott.

While Canberra (10th; 5-6 record) are also without David Shillington (Queensland) and Tom Learoyd-Lahrs (NSW), they are favourites to win their third straight match - and first in Townsville since 2006.

But Henry wasn't so sure.

In fact he thought the absence of stars such as Thurston might be a good thing for his battling side.

"Yeah for sure, the other guys have to step up to the breach," he said.

"JT is our go-to man and that can be very easy to read by the opposition, and he gets targeted a bit there.

"(And) the last time we didn't have our senior players in was the Roosters game (five weeks ago) - and Johnathan didn't play as well - and we got a win.

"So maybe it's time we got one on Saturday."

Asked if this was a "do or die match", Henry said: "If you look at the mathematics of it, you can see we need to win some games.

"But is our season over? Is it the end of the world?

"No doubt the team is lacking confidence but we can find that through a good performance - and we owe the fans a good, solid performance (on Saturday night)."

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