Blake Ferguson and Sandor Earl are unlikely to play again for the Canberra Raiders. Photo: Graham Tidy
The ''Dorguson'' bromance is over with Canberra winger Sandor Earl joining Blake Ferguson on the sideline while Josh McCrone's future could be as a hooker as the Raiders try to keep their season alive.
In a major shake of the Raiders team, interim coach Andrew Dunemann has rejigged his side to play the New Zealand Warriors in Auckland on Saturday. Skipper Terry Campese returns from an eye injury, prop Tom Learoyd-Lahrs is set to end a four-month injury absence, McCrone has moved from halfback to hooker and Earl has been ruled out with a hamstring injury.
Ferguson was not picked and has likely played his last game for the Green Machine.
Raiders player Josh McCrone. Photo: Melissa Adams
The controversial 23-year-old centre formed a dynamic combination with Earl last season and the duo created their own nickname - ''Dorguson''. But Earl's injury will likely keep him out of action for the rest of the year and he will leave the capital at the end of the season to link with French rugby union second division team Pau.
The Raiders need to win the last two games of the regular season to have any hope of making the finals.
Young gun Anthony Milford starred in the halves last weekend and Campese's return has forced McCrone to shift to the No.9 jersey.
Dunemann believes McCrone can earn representative honours as a hooker. ''I think we're a better team when Josh is at No.9, I think he can be a representative No.9, that's how good I think he is there,'' he said.
''It's not about what he did last weekend … it's more for our team and he really helps going forward there, he's a smart player. [Long-term] is something you'd definitely speak to Josh about, he's a valuable player because he can fill the halves but I see him as a really, really good No.9.''
Campese hasn't played since the Raiders' loss to the Sydney Roosters three weeks ago.
McCrone admitted he would have been ''naive'' to expect to stay in the halves with Campese returning and Milford's stunning transition from fullback to five-eighth.
''I'm all for whatever we have to do to win these last two games. At the moment Dunes thinks hooker is the best spot for me and I'm happy with that,'' McCrone said. ''There's no denying how well [Milford] played.''
State of Origin second-rower Josh Papalii injured his ankle last weekend, but said it would not affect his involvement in the Warriors match.
It remains unclear whether Milford will stay in Canberra beyond the end of the season. He has asked for a release from his contract on compassionate grounds, but his close relationship with Dunemann could convince him to stay with the Raiders.
Despite Milford's effort in the halves, Dunemann still sees the 19-year-old as a fullback.
''Right now I think the halves is the position he needs play, we need his X-factor getting the ball more,'' Dunemann said.
''But moving forward he's a fullback, then you have to work out a style with Reece [Robinson] and maybe you develop a style that no one's ever seen before with both [Milford and Robinson] playing fullback.''
Learoyd-Lahrs hasn't played since the round-eight win over the Melbourne Storm. Joel Thompson moves from the second row into the centres with former Warrior Bill Tupou squaring off against Manu Vatuvei on the wing in his first clash against his ex-teammates.