Tigers facing Dugan dilemma - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Tigers facing Dugan dilemma

By Steve Jancetic 25/03/2011 08:23:37 PM Comments (0)

Canberra coach David Furner has ensured a sleepless night for former mentor Tim Sheens by declaring gun fullback Josh Dugan a likely starter in Saturday night's showdown with Wests Tigers.

Dugan - who hasn't played since straining a calf muscle in last month's All-Stars clash - is racing the clock to be fit for the Campbelltown Stadium match-up.

A final decision is unlikely to be made until Saturday as officials monitor how he pulls up from final training.

Tigers coach Sheens conceded Dugan's availability would have a massive impact on his game plan heading into the game, with the 20-year-old's ability to break the line rivalling that of Parramatta ace Jarryd Hayne.

Furner, who played under Sheens at the Raiders in the early 1990s, said Dugan would only play if he was 100 per cent fit.

"He's a natural footballer, a natural runner," said Furner, who also has doubts over centre Jarrod Croker, who has a thigh strain.

"I don't want to take that away from him. We're going to need that style of play from Josh to beat Wests Tigers.

"It will come down to (Friday's) session with young Josh and Jarrod ... I'm expecting that Doogs will pull through okay.

"There's some plans there if Doogs doesn't happen to get through."

David Milne, who was named at fullback earlier in the week, did not travel with the side on Friday, with Furner intimating either under 20s custodian Nathan Massey or winger Blake Ferguson would play fullback if Dugan was unavailable.

Sheens said Dugan's inclusion would cause a bit of a rethink.

"We'll obviously have to make some compensation there, a late-minute game plan if we find (Dugan's) going to play," Sheens said.

"All we can do at the moment is prepare for the team that's been announced - but in the back of our minds, if he does play we'll have a different strategy.

"You don't want to give him kicks in good field position, you certainly don't want to kick to him - at least make him work, particularly if he's been injured."

While Dugan's status remains uncertain, one man who will definitely be on a mission on Saturday night is Matt Orford, who will be hoping his second game in a lime green jumper is much better than his first, which ended in a 20-4 loss to Brisbane.

Sheens vowed to put the pressure on the former Manly premiership-winning captain as he continues to adjust to life back in the NRL.

"You'd be mad not to put pressure on him as far as his kicking game is concerned in particular - that's his strength," Sheens said.

Sheens denied reports Gareth Ellis (ankle) or Bryce Gibbs (knee) were any chance of making unexpected returns.

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