Looking good ... Canberra's Josh Dugan. Photo: Getty Images
CANBERRA'S hopes of beating in-form Cronulla could be boosted by the return of Josh Dugan. The fullback trained strongly yesterday after recovering from 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 another Achilles tendon injury. Dugan revealed last week he intends to play with a ruptured shoulder joint, suffered in round three against Sydney Roosters, for the rest of the year.
Raiders coach David Furner said the club's injury toll meant he would not risk Dugan against the Sharks, winners of their past five matches, unless he ticked 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 before the team announcement on May 14 for the Origin 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 is on track to make his comeback from a biceps 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 in nine days after being told he faces another year on the sideline. He 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.''
Furner said he expected Campese to provide guidance to Canberra's new halves combination of Sam Williams and Josh McCrone once he was ready to return.
''He did that as well last year, helped out,'' Furner said.