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Dugan digs in despite missing out on Origin

Date

Jon Tuxworth

Star fullback Josh Dugan plans to turn the Blues' loss into Canberra's gain, intent on using his Origin snub to breathe new life into the Raiders' season.

Just hours before learning he had lost the battle for the New South Wales No.1 jersey to Brett Stewart, Dugan put in a man-of-the-match effort in Canberra's 40-34 victory over Parramatta.

Dugan's omission from Origin I could be pivotal for the Raiders, whose campaign remains at the crossroads with four wins from the first 10 rounds.

Canberra is already without Terry Campese and Brett White for the rest of the season, and will also be missing second-rower Josh Papalii for an extended period after he fractured his arm against the Eels.

In-form Raiders prop David Shillington is a certainty to be named in Queensland's Origin side tonight, meaning he will also be unavailable for three mid-season games.

With a tough assignment next up against a resurgent Souths at Sydney in two weeks, Canberra can ill-afford to lose its best player.

With two games under his belt, Dugan was ordered by coach David Furner to increase his involvement yesterday.

He responded in positive fashion by running for 115 metres, making seven tackle breaks and setting up winger Reece Robinson for a crucial second-half try.

''Going into today I wasn't too worried about Origin, it was just about getting a good performance out for Canberra,'' Dugan said.

''I've been behind the eight ball the last couple of weeks, I worked pretty hard at training to get around the ball a bit more and I think I did that today.''

Dugan's trademark bull-at-a-gate running style was back in force yesterday.

But he admitted he was still learning to effectively ''save himself from himself''.

''It's about burning up the right juice, there are times when I burn a little bit too much on certain things, and I have to save as much as I can for what's best for the team,'' Dugan said.

''Sometimes it [going a hundred mile an hour] is the best thing for the team and other times it's not, it's about getting the right balance.''

Despite yesterday's win, the Raiders' mood was sombre after the poor defensive showing in the second half almost cost them a precious two points.

''There's still a few things we can work on as a team,'' Dugan said.

''We kept them in the game and we just wanted to have that attitude in defence.

''I think it was there at times, but we can still work hard on that.''

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