By Chris Kennedy (NRL.com)
Blues fullback Josh Dugan may have been one of his side's best in a heartbreaking one-point loss in the opening game of the Holden State of Origin series but says his personal form is irrelevant in the context of a team loss.
Addressing media on the first morning of the side's Coffs Harbour camp after flying in on Tuesday afternoon, Dugan also defended some of his teammates that have come under fire from sections of the media and insisted the players carrying injuries are all fine to train from day one.
"Personal accolades for me is the bottom of the list, I might have played good but we lost the game and that's the thing that hurt most and that's the thing we have to rectify," Dugan said of his game one effort replacing Jarryd Hayne in the sky blue No.1 where his explosive line break and pinpoint kick for the side's opening try was the highlight in a powerful all-round game.
A hip complaint that he is carrying out of the weekend's loss to Canterbury won't hamper Dugan's preparation.
"Yeah it's ok, got a bit of physio yesterday, I've been on the ice, it's pulled up better today, I'll get through the session today and back on the ice," he said.
Hooker Robbie Farah, aiming to shake off a serious shoulder injury to play for the first time since being injured in Origin 1 is "strapped up and ready to go," Dugan added.
The fullback leapt to the defence of skipper Paul Gallen in the wake of public comments from former Blues coach Phil Gould that the side should move on without the 34-year-old warhorse, as well as embattled halfback Trent Hodkinson who was substituted at a key juncture in Canterbury's win over the Dragons on Monday.
"[Gallen] is an inspirational leader and he's someone that won't let anyone down," Dugan said.
"I think he'll prove how old he is on Wednesday, he'll probably be one of our best players like he is nearly every Origin.
"He'll go for as long as he can and as long as he's playing great footy and putting the performances on the board I don't see why he can't be there."
Dugan added Hodkinson has been great since entering camp. "All the boys have got his back, we know that he can do the job for us and that will never change," he said.
The first evening in camp on Tuesday involved a review of the first game but from Wednesday it's all about what needs to happen next Wednesday night at the MCG, and in particular making sure the side's decision making and execution is better than it was in the second half of Origin I where the side twice missed chances to set for important field goals and instead allowed Queensland to boot the match-winner. On one of those occasions Dugan himself narrowly missed a field goal in a play where the ball should have instead gone to Hodkinson.
"It's a must-win game for us and that's the mentality we have to take into every session then into the game, we spoke about that yesterday and I think all the boys have bought into it," Dugan said.
"We've got to use that [loss] as a motivation; it was heartbreaking to lose by one point when we put ourselves in a position to win. We have to go out there and no let the game slip again.
"I think it was just decision making under fatigue, we made 80-odd extra tackles than them and defended 15 minutes on our line. You give a great side like Queensland that much ball and they're going to give themselves the best opportunity to come out on top."
He said he was buying neither into talk about Queensland's "niggle" in Game One, nor of talk the side would be weaker with Manly half Daly Cherry-Evans replacing injured playmaker Cooper Cronk.
"We're pretty confident without even worrying about their team, we put ourselves in a position to win that game and we lost it ourselves. We should have probably won that game. Again, decision making under fatigue and a few errors coming out of our end gifted them some good ball," he said.
"We didn't do it in Game One [with dirty tactics] and we nearly won Game One so I don't think we need to buy into it at all."