Raiders unlikely to risk Dugan
Raiders fullback Josh Dugan is unlikely to play against the Sharks on Sunday. Photo: Jeffrey Chan
The injury-ravaged Canberra Raiders may have to wait another week for reinforcements to arrive, with star fullback Josh Dugan unlikely to return against Cronulla on Sunday.
Raiders coach David Furner said last night he ''isn't that confident'' of Dugan's chances of playing after missing the past four matches with a ruptured shoulder joint.
Dugan and lock Shaun Fensom (bicep tear) were both injured in Canberra's round three loss to the Roosters, and won't be named in the Raiders side today.
They will be given until later in the week to prove their fitness, but Fensom is rated the best chance of playing. Dugan confirmed last week he planned to play under duress for the rest of the season, after being told he wasn't at risk of causing more damage.
If Dugan doesn't play this week, it's another blow to his hopes of regaining the NSW No.1 jersey for the opening State of Origin match in Melbourne on May 23.
His absence would give his rivals for the position - Jarryd Hayne and Brett Morris - another significant leg-up.
''They [Dugan and Fensom] won't be named,'' Furner said last night. ''I'm not that confident with Duges, Fensom might be close maybe.
''Tomorrow [today] will be a harder session, but they're still in the pink shirts at the moment. We can still win games with the team we've got.''
The Canberra Times also understands young hooker Matt McIlwrick is being strongly considered to make his NRL debut against Cronulla.
McIlwrick has been impressive for the Raiders' NSW Cup feeder side Mounties, and his creativity around the ruck could be crucial with playmaker Terry Campese ruled out for the season.
If selected, McIlwrick will become the seventh player to make his NRL debut for the Raiders since the start of the 2011 season.
The 20-year-old would replace Travis Waddell on the interchange bench should Furner take a punt on the former junior Kiwi.