Dugan set for lots of action in NRL return - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Dugan set for lots of action in NRL return

Ben Horne and Matt Sadler 16/07/2011 04:09:37 PM Comments (0)

Canberra star Josh Dugan isn't planning on a gradual reintroduction to the NRL and will play like a second halfback for the Raiders in their clash with Melbourne on Sunday.

Dugan has been sidelined for more than a month with an ankle injury, which also kept him out of State of Origin II and III, but the Raiders can't afford him to fly under the radar in his return.

Canberra can barely afford to drop another game in their run to the finals, as they currently sit three wins out of the top eight picture.

The Green Machine need to throw everything they have at the ladder-leading Storm at Canberra Stadium, however they'll need Dugan to fire if they're to trouble a formidable side boasting Billy Slater, Cameron Smith and Cooper Cronk.

To contend with the issue of Dugan possibly carrying a bit of rust after so many weeks out, coach David Furner wants his No.1 to have the ball in his hands as often as possible and play his way back into form.

Furner wants Dugan to help out young halves Josh McCrone and Sam Williams in the playmaking department, and slot into first receiving as often as possible.

"He's the type of player that can play that first receiver role. It gives us another attacking weapon there offensively," said Furner.

"It's about just getting back in the park and that's all I've asked him to do.

"Externally there's a lot of expectation. Unfortunately, through sustaining a couple of injuries there during the year every time he started to get going with his football, he's copped an injury.

"So for Doogs, it's about getting himself into the match.

"No doubt they'll put a bit of pressure on him because he hasn't played for a while. It's something that Doogs will be looking forward to."

Dugan is about as audacious and confident as young players come, and Raiders captain Alan Tongue is certain his No.1 won't be shy against the Storm's all-star outfit.

The battle of the fullbacks, NSW's Dugan up against Queensland's Slater, could decide the match.

"Is he going to be at his best? I'm not too sure, but he'll be close to it," predicted Tongue.

"He's had a great week at training and looks exciting.

"It's a huge challenge for him against arguably the best defensive team in the comp. So we're going to have to be really sharp with our attacking game and what he'll bring to that and add confidence and add a bit of flair too."

The match pits Raiders prop Brett White against his former team - and when the sides met earlier in the year, White turned out arguably his best performance of the season.

Furner ruled out David Shillington's chances of making a surprise return on Sunday and challenged second rower Bronson Harrison to prove his worth in the starting side, after a couple of weeks of being demoted to the bench.

"For Bronson, it's an opportunity to play the type of football we know he can play and I know he's looking for a big game," said Furner.

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