Stuart mentored Dugan into NSW Origin side - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Stuart mentored Dugan into NSW Origin side

By Ben Horne 16/05/2011 06:06:57 PM Comments (0)

NSW coach Ricky Stuart called Josh Dugan weekly to ensure the Canberra fullback was State of Origin-ready when the team was picked.

Dugan beat Parramatta star Jarryd Hayne to the highly contentious No.1 jersey, with Stuart up front about his preference for the Raiders style of play.

Twenty one-year-old Dugan revealed on Monday the active role Stuart played in driving him through injury setbacks and the poor form of his club team during the season so far.

Stuart became a mentor for Dugan and his eagerness to get the fullback prodigy up to speed provides an insight into the hands-on approach the passionate coach has taken since taking over the reins.

"Since the emerging Origin camp, he's tried to stay in touch and help me build on my game and things I can do to improve," said Dugan.

"I was hearing from him basically every week, saying good luck and he's telling me what I needed to do that day and every day I took that in.

"That was my game plan going into each game - doing what Sticky said to do and build off that.

"Every week he would ring me or message me to see how I was doing and whether I was ready for the game. He'd give me one or two tips going into the game."

The advice of Canberra team-mates was to "tear it up," and that's exactly what Dugan intends to do with the faith of Stuart behind him.

He's never shown signs of being suspect under pressure since he came into the NRL and boldly declared he'd rise to the occasion again in his Origin debut at Suncorp Stadium next Wednesday.

"That builds a player's confidence, knowing such a big important coach wants you to do the best you can so you can get ready to play for him," said Dugan, who backed himself to stand up against his Queensland opposite number Billy Slater.

"I always try and get myself up for the big games and I think Wednesday night will be no different.

"It's always a challenge playing against your opposite number every week and that's the sort of thing I like to get myself up for and do the best I can to outplay that player."

Eels main man Hayne said he was confused by his shock omission from the NSW team and isn't ready to switch to five-eighth as Stuart suggested in his blunt explanation of why he chose Dugan.

Hayne has been a standout and a player of the series for the Blues in the past but Stuart said he felt the former golden boot winner would be better suited to playing five-eighth when he dropped the selection bombshell.

On Monday, Hayne told the media he wasn't worried whether Stuart phoned him to discuss his omission or not, as he disagreed he was ready for a move to the halves.

"In a couple of years, but not for the next two or three years. I'll be playing fullback. That's where I like to play and that's where I will play," he said.

"I don't feel I have the composure of a five-eighth at the moment.

"If he (Stuart) calls me, he calls me. If he doesn't, he doesn't."

Dugan said he felt he earned his selection over Hayne but predicted the rivalry will only intensify as a result.

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