Dugan: I Feared The Worst
By Martin Gabor (NRL.com)
Dragons fullback Josh Dugan thought his State of Origin dreams were dashed after he hyperextended his left elbow competing for a loose ball in last week's loss to the Rabbitohs.
Scans cleared the 26-year-old of any structural damage, but the New South Wales Blues centre admitted he had feared the worst at the time.
"I actually thought that I'd broken my arm," Dugan revealed.
"I was in a fair bit of pain and that sort of thing and even after the game once the adrenalin wore off, my whole arm was shaking and I was sort of in panic mode.
"The scans came back positive so for me now it's just about doing the right things; ice and physio and that sort of thing to get the swelling down and I should be right to go."
NSW Blues coach Laurie Daley named an extended squad which included cover for the outside backs, but Dugan said the injury scare wouldn't stop him from running out onto ANZ Stadium on June 1.
"As far as I know I'm pretty good to go," he declared.
"It's a little bit sore and that sort of thing.
"There was a bit of bone bruising in the joint as well so that's probably the only thing that's going to annoy me for a little bit.
"I've played with worse so it's just about doing what I have to do."
Despite winning the Brad Fittler Medal in 2015 for being NSW's best player for his work in the No.1 jersey, Dugan appears certain to make way for Penrith's Matt Moylan and be shifted to the centres instead.
Dugan is no stranger to playing on the edges having represented the Blues twice there in 2014, as well as lining up for the Kangaroos at right centre earlier this year.
The Dragons fullback said he and Daley had spoken about the possible positional switch before the squad was announced and backed Moylan to succeed in what will be his first series for the Blues.
"He (Daley) told me that I'd be here, whether that was fullback or centre," he said.
"I guess in the end I'm feeling like he's leaning towards centre with Moyza (Moylan) being here and I can fully understand that.
"He's a great player and I think he does want that ball-playing fullback and Moyza is probably one of the best in the game at the moment.
"I got the hit out against the Kiwis in the Anzac Test in the centres so I'm feeling good about playing centre.
"Even though you do try to score points and that sort of thing, there's never really too many points scored in an Origin game; bar Game Three (2015) which you try to forget if you're a NSW person.
"That's going to be our driving factor this year I think and we've got to just prepare as best we can and go out there next Wednesday and really give it a crack."
With Moylan expected to add finesse to the Blues' attack with his ball-playing skills, Dugan said the onus was on the rest of the outside backs to get the side going forward with their early-set carries.
Dugan (1,911 metres) and winger Josh Mansour (1,730m) rank first and fourth respectively in terms of metres made in the 2016 NRL Telstra Premiership and their ability to make ground will be crucial come next Wednesday.
"It is a bit of a yardage game at times and it is an arm wrestle," the Dragons fullback said.
"Our back five is as good as theirs, if not whatever you want to say. We know we've got to do a job and we feel like we can do it.
"We've got Josh Mansour who's been playing unreal for his club and Fergo (Blake Ferguson) as well. It's just about us turning up and having that want to do it on Wednesday."
While Dugan said representing the Blues was more than enough motivation for the playing group, he acknowledged sending out departing skipper Paul Gallen with a series win would be extra special.
The inspirational Sharks and Blues leader has done his state proud 21 times throughout his storied career and announced earlier this year that the 2016 series would be his last.
"He's been a mainstay in Origin for years and he's been one of the better captains for NSW as well," Dugan said.
"To get to play alongside him for this series is special and there'd be nothing better to send him off a winner."