BLUES IN REVIEW | Josh Dugan
In a series that was hampered with injury, Josh Dugan was sorely missed by the NSW VB Blues.
Dugan, who had become a regular selection when fit, looked certain to add to his 10 Origin appearances in 2016 after a strong start to the NRL season. With representative experience in both the centres and at fullback, there were questions about where - not if - Dugan would be named to take part in the series opener at ANZ Stadium.
His selection at centre - making way for exciting fullback Matt Moylan - brought with it a different role to what Dugan experienced in 2015, but Dugan's hard running and consistent tackle-breaking ability left little doubt that it was the right move for coach Laurie Daley. An elbow injury sustained just prior to the first team announcement, however, and reaggravated late in the week's Origin preparations, ruled the Dragons star out of the first and subsequently second games of the series.
A noted fast healer, Dugan returned from surgery to take his place in the series finale after the shield had been won by Queensland. Lining up at right centre, Dugan's seven runs, two tackle-breaks and 60 metres showed glimpses of what he is capable of in the ensuing 49 minutes, before a high shoulder charge from opposite number Greg Inglis broke his jaw. The injury cruelly ended Dugan's series before he had the chance to make any real impact, which could have been helpful for the team in the opening two games.
At 26 years of age, Dugan is one of the more experienced players in the NSW VB Blues line-up and his recent selection in the Kangaroos' Four Nations squad is proof of the value he still adds to any side he plays in. He will have significant competition, but will have State of Origin in his sights again in 2017.
Origins: 9 (2011-16)
2016 Matches: 1 (Game III)
Total Running Metres: 60 metres
Tackles: 10 metres