Dugan steps up to fill in for Croker
Josh Dugan on the sideline during last week's trial against the Storm. Photo: Getty Images
Star fullback Josh Dugan has first crack at taking over the kicking duties in the absence of the injured Jarrod Croker.
Raiders coach David Furner said Dugan had put his hand up to take on the responsibility after Croker suffered a medial ligament strain during last week's trial against Melbourne. Croker had key-hole surgery on his knee and he was hoping to be ready for round one.
Dugan will use Saturday night's trial against NSW Cup sides Mounties and Wyong in Sydney as an audition to take over the kicking duties until Croker's return.
Raiders fullback Josh Dugan kicks for goal during the NRL trial match against the Melbourne Storm. Photo: Getty Images
Furner pointed to Dugan's efforts in last year's semi-final loss as proof he could handle the pressure - Dugan slotted two of three attempts in the 38-16 loss. The Raiders mentor added winger Reece Robinson was another option.
''Duges has already put up his hand to have first crack at it this week, so it's a good chance to be able to trial Duges and trial our goalkickers,'' Furner said. ''Last year, against Souths, he kicked quite well, Duges, in that semi-final although we lost the game.
''He's certainly a capable kicker. He was out this morning before training just having a few shots. We think he enjoys that added job.''
Croker wasn't the only injury concern, with lock Shaun Fensom also in doubt for the trial. Fensom has strained a biceps muscle and Furner didn't want to risk him unless he was fully recovered.
While Croker and Fensom were losses, Furner was excited about the return of prop Brett White from a knee reconstruction. White tore his anterior cruciate ligament against the Cowboys in round five last year.
With Tom Learoyd-Lahrs also coming back from a hamstring strain, it means Furner has all four of his big boppers at his disposal for the first time since April last year.
Furner indicated Raiders captain Terry Campese (knee) was likely to be ready for round two or three - against the Gold Coast at Skilled Park or St George Illawarra at home the following week.
NRL trial: Raiders v Mounties and Wyong, at Cook Park, Mt Pritchard, 6.30pm.