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Dugan saves Dragons, ready for NSW call-up

Josh Dugan says he is ready for a State of Origin SOS from NSW coach Laurie Daley if Jarryd Hayne is ruled out of the second interstate clash.
Dugan saves Dragons, ready for NSW call-up
by AAP

By James MacSmith

NEWCASTLE, NSW, June 8 AAP - Josh Dugan says he is ready for a State of Origin SOS from NSW coach Laurie Daley if Jarryd Hayne is ruled out of the second interstate clash.

Dugan starred in St George Illawarra's upset 14-8 win over Newcastle at Hunter Stadium on Saturday night in just his fourth game for the Dragons after being sacked by Canberra in March.

Hayne was superb in NSW's game-one win but suffered a hamstring injury in Parramatta's loss to the Sydney Roosters on Friday, which could rule him out of game two in Brisbane on June 26.

Dugan scored 12 points for the Dragons, including two tries, and the matchwinning four-pointer in an emphatic man-of-the-match effort.

With the game in the balance at 8-all and golden point beckoning Dugan forced his way over from close range from a scrum win in the 77th minute after James McManus had spilt a kick in front of the Knights' posts.

The former NSW custodian was the difference between the two side and was a constant menace for the Knights defence running for 194m from 22 carries.

Dugan said his focus was not on a return for NSW but was ready for a call from Daley if Hayne is ruled out.

"I think my form has shown that," he said.

"I spent 10 weeks on the sideline but I think I have had some good performances since then.

"Since I came back my focus has been on playing well for the Dragons. I will put my best foot forward if I do get picked but I'm not going to get my hopes up. I'm just going to let my football do the talking."

Dugan has sharpened the Dragons' attack significantly since his return and said he wanted to repay the faith the joint venture had put in him with some big game efforts.

"I have always seen myself as that sort of player," he said of his late try in which he brushed aside Knights defenders Jeremy Smith and David Fa'alogo.

"I just want to put myself in the best position for the team and do whatever I can do. We have been working on a few plays at training and a few of the boys said 'take it yourself' and I did."

Dragons coach Steve Price heaped praise upon his superstar fullback who spectacularly outjumped McManus for his first try in the 56th minute.

"Special players make special plays," he said.

"That play with the crosskick to take it out of mid-air I thought that was super and to come up with a play off the scrum and beat a couple of players that's what talented footballers do. That's why they get paid the big bikkies.

However, Price wouldn't be drawn on Dugan's Origin chances.

Knights coach and former Maroons mentor Bennett said of Dugan: "Quality players ... that's what they do ... that's what they bring."

In a game in which Bennett set a new record of 670 for the most first-grade games coached, eclipsing Tim Sheens, Knights utility Beau Scott was placed on report for a first-half crusher tackle on Dugan.

The win kept the Dragons incredible record in Newcastle alive - they have won 13 of 15 games at Hunter Stadium.

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