Josh Dugan in action during Raiders training yesterday. Photo: Jeffrey Chan
Canberra Raiders star Josh Dugan can expect to have weekly painkilling injections as he soldiers through the rest of the NRL season with a ruptured shoulder joint.
Dugan will wear a specially-designed shoulder pad created by Alan Tongue that the former Raiders captain used last season when he had the same injury.
The NSW fullback is hopeful of returning to face the Cronulla Sharks next weekend but concedes Brett Morris and Jarryd Hayne have the jump on him for the Blues' No.1 jersey for the State of Origin opener in Melbourne on May 23.
Dugan has been sidelined since he suffered a grade three tear to his AC joint in the round three loss to the Sydney Roosters.
His injury is almost identical to the one Tongue played with last year.
''It probably kept you from being your best but it wasn't too bad,'' Tongue said.
''If it's a grade three like mine, where it was completely ruptured, you can't actually do any more damage to it. When I had it strapped down, local anaesthetic with a pad on it, it restricts you a bit but you can deal with it.
''Once you get into the game, you'll feel it every now and again but with a local anaesthetic in there it's fine.''
Dugan completed yesterday's training session wearing the same shoulder pad Tongue had modified to see him through last season.
''It braces the impact on either side and has got a cone shape that goes over where the AC joint is sitting out of place,'' Tongue said.
''When it hits, the impact gets dispersed across the shoulder and not right on the point.
''We played around a few different designs and came up with one which was close enough.''
Tongue said the most noticeable impact of the injury was he had no strength across his body and was unable to pass the ball with any power for the first few weeks.
He said Dugan could expect to struggle the day after a game, would need to miss the odd contact training session and would be limited with the amount of weights he could lift.
Tongue endured complications with the traditional surgery, which uses a graft from the hamstring, and was supportive of Dugan using an artificial ligament.
''It didn't work the first time so I had to go back in four days later and get it done again,'' Tongue said.
''I've still got the big indent where they took the two hamstring grafts.
''It took me more time to get over my hamstring problem than it did the shoulder.''
While the Raiders have opted against LARS surgery for Terry Campese and Brett White, who have both had knee reconstructions for torn anterior cruciate ligaments, Dugan said it was the right option for him.
''I don't want the risk of the hammy dying off and snapping and having to re-do it all over again,'' Dugan said. ''They might have to shave the end of the collarbone off as well. My main focus is to stay injury-free and manage this the best I can until the end of the year.''
Dugan considered having the operation immediately but ruled it out when it meant missing the next three months, including the entire State of Origin series.