St George Illawarra players are backing “miracle man” Josh Dugan to make an unlikely return for NSW in game two of the State of Origin series.
The Dragons star is just one week into his recovery from elbow surgery, which was initially expected to take at least six weeks, but his club teammates refuse to rule him out of the clash in Brisbane.
He will be three weeks into recovery on the day of the Suncorp Stadium match on June 22.
“I just saw him before, actually. He said it’s coming along really nicely with his cleanout,” Dragons forward Jack de Belin said.
“Obviously right now he doesn’t know where he stands and how long it’s going to be but you can never rule Dugesy out. He’s a miracle man. He recovers pretty quickly.
“Sometimes you might think he’s out for a month and he’ll be back in two days. You never know with him. Hopefully he’ll be back.”
Picked at left centre by Blues coach Laurie Daley for Origin I, Dugan was ruled out three days before the series opener due to the injury, forcing the Blues to bring in Josh Morris.
Morris had a solid outing opposite Queensland star Greg Inglis and claimed he scored a potential match-winner that was denied by the bunker late in the game.
However, Dugan’s unlikely bid would still be a welcome headache for Daley, who had guaranteed the 26-year-old a spot for most of the year.
Daley will also have to find a replacement for injured second-rower Boyd Cordner.
Dragons halfback Benji Marshall said Dugan was in a positive frame of mind.
“His spirits are pretty high and something he had to get done. But hopefully he can get back for us sooner rather than later and worry about Origin after that,” he said.