He may have scored from out wide, and may forever be the centre of the attention, but Josh Dugan’s experiment on the flanks is all but over.
St George Illawarra coach Paul McGregor confirmed as much after his star provided a clutch try in his side’s 14-12 NRL win over Penrith in Wollongong on Sunday.
Down four with four minutes remaining, Dugan showed why he’s the NSW State of Origin No.1, levelling the scores with a powerful run over former Dragon Jamie Soward and Tyrone Peachey.
And while skipper Gareth Widdop kicked the go-ahead conversion, it was Dugan’s power game as a fullback that forced his coach to signal that, for now, his time as a centre is done.
“His involvement is a lot higher at the back, without a doubt. Josh did well and he’ll be staying at the back,” McGregor said.
“He’s a big game player, and that’s what you like to see from the big players in situations like that. The better players go to the game at times like that, they don’t shy away from it.”
Dugan has previously stated a desire to move to the flanks, and the recruitment of Kurt Mann over the summer allowed McGregor to test the new combination out.
But after the former Melbourne utility flopped in two losses to start the season, the Dragons have since recorded back-to-back wins with Dugan in the backfield.
Over the past fortnight, he has run 401 metres and busted eight tackles.
“It’s something I’m comfortable with and I know my role there,” he said.
“I am always going to try and put myself in spots where it’s going to benefit the team, that’s what I’m trying to do. I love getting my hand on the ball and playing off the back of our forwards.”