24 April 2012, Canberra Times photo by ROHAN THOMSON. Raiders' Josh Dugan at training this morning. rt120424raiders-2828.jpg Photo: email@example.com
The Raiders' hopes of beating a resurgent Cronulla may be boosted by the return of Josh Dugan after the star fullback trained strongly yesterday.
Dugan emerged unscathed from the highly physical session to enhance his chances of returning from a four-match layoff with a shoulder injury.
The 21-year-old is desperate to play on Sunday and help fill the void left by Terry Campese, who will miss the rest of the season with his second major knee injury in as many years.
Dugan revealed last week he intends to play on for the rest of 2012 despite a ruptured shoulder joint suffered in round three against the Roosters.
Raiders coach David Furner said the club's horrific injury toll means it won't risk Dugan against the Sharks, winners of their past five matches, unless he ''ticks all the boxes''.
''We're still not making the call, he handled today all right but we'll go back and see the doctors,'' Furner said.
''We've got another run to go [tomorrow] and we just have to make sure it's 100 per cent, the role he plays and the way he plays with that shoulder, it's really crucial all the boxes have to be ticked.''
However, with NSW spots up for grabs ahead of the team announcement on May 14 for the series opener in Melbourne on May 23, Sharks coach Shane Flanagan is preparing for Dugan to play.
''We're expecting him to pop up there, definitely,'' Flanagan said.
''They're saying he's planning to come back next week but we're planning for him to turn up so if he turns up we're ready.''
Should Dugan return, young winger Jack Wighton is likely to be omitted, with Reece Robinson, who has deputised ably at fullback the past month, shifting back to left wing.
Workaholic lock Shaun Fensom also trained well yesterday, and remains on track to make his comeback from a bicep tear also suffered against the Roosters.
''Today was a physical session and we'll see how Fenno and Duges pull up [today] with the doctors and physio, and we'll take it from there,'' Furner said. Campese showed up at training yesterday for the first time since being told the shattering news nine days ago he faces another year on the sideline.
The players received an obvious boost from the presence of their leader, who arrived on crutches but in good spirits.
''I called around his place yesterday [Wednesday] to see how he was going, it's a tough one,'' Furner said.
''He's good to have around the place and the players are happy to see him.''
Campese's plight will undoubtedly provide his teammates with motivation as they look to bounce back from a 30-6 hiding in Brisbane last start.
Furner expects the 27-year-old to provide guidance to Canberra's new halves combination in Sam Williams and Josh McCrone once he's ready to return to the group full time.
''He did that as well last year, helped out with his kicking and vision with Joshy McCrone and Sammy and also the Mounties guys like Mick Picker,'' Furner said. ''Once he starts moving his head around a bit more he'll start poking his head in and offering his advice.'' with AAP