Former Raiders captains back Dugan to shine in NRL return

Former Raiders captains back Dugan to shine in NRL return

The two Raiders captains in charge of Josh Dugan's controversial time in Canberra say the troubled star deserves a second chance and they expect him to shine in a massive NRL grand final qualifier.

But former Canberra captain Terry Captain adds the Cronulla Sharks utility back needs to stop putting himself in bad situations.

Dugan's expected to overcome a shoulder injury in time to take a spot somewhere in the Sharks backline for their preliminary final against the Melbourne Storm in Melbourne on Friday.

His former Raiders captains expect Josh Dugan to perform on the big stage.

His former Raiders captains expect Josh Dugan to perform on the big stage.

The 28-year-old struggled to control his emotions during a press conference last week where he felt he'd become an easy target for negative stories due to his controversial past.


The Raiders sacked him in 2013 after he skipped a recovery session to drink Cruisers on his rooftop.

Alan Tongue, who was the Green Machine captain for Dugan's NRL debut, said on Wednesday he was concerned for Dugan's welfare.

He said players were always going to make mistakes and Dugan had admitted he "hasn't been perfect".

Tongue was confident the Sharks star could put it all behind him when he runs out against the Storm.

"Nobody's ever doubted his footballing ability when he's been fit and healthy," he said.

"He'll do a great job for them, but football is as much mental as it is physical. Sometimes even more mental.


"I think he's got a really good side around him and it's a big stage and he'll rise to that occasion."

It's a sentiment Campese shared, having been the Raiders captain when Dugan was sacked.

Dugan's expected to return from his shoulder injury, potentially coming back on the wing.

Campese expected him to thrive on the big stage, something Dugan's become familiar with having played 12 Tests for Australia and 12 State of Origins for NSW.

His former skipper even felt the Sharks could win their way through to the grand final - especially if Paul Gallen (shoulder) plays.

"He's a class player Duges and that's where he does his best talking is on the football field. That's what he's best at," Campese said.

"He's one of the best return ball carriers, with how strong he is with the ball. It's a massive game and he loves the big games.

"I expect him to go out there and do a good job. Depends on 'Gal', but the Sharks might get the upset and set up an all-Sydney grand final."

But Campese also felt the Storm would be buoyed by the fact star fullback Billy Slater was retiring at the end of the season.


Not to mention they're the benchmark of the NRL and "thrive" on finals football.

The Storm are looking to become the first team to win back-to-back premierships since the Brisbane Broncos in 1998.

"There's a few big players leaving Melbourne and they always get up for these games. Semi-final football, they thrive on this stuff," Campese said.

"They're easily the best team over the past decade, [but] there's something about the Sharks I like. Their first half last week, that first 20 minutes, was very intense ... if they can fix their second half up they're the team to beat."

While Campese did feel sorry for Dugan, he also felt like the former Raiders fullback brought the unwanted attention upon himself.

The latest incident in Dugan's career was appearing on an expletive laden UFC podcast.

"I do believe everyone needs a second chance, but in saying that you can't be on podcasts bagging people out," Campese said.

"Everyone's entitled to their opinion, but sometimes it's best to keep it behind closed doors and within your inner circle.

"I definitely feel for him at times, but the last incident he put himself in that situation which he shouldn't have."

David Polkinghorne covers the Canberra Raiders, local rugby league, Canberra Cavalry, racing and cycling, along with every other sport, for The Canberra Times.

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