It was supposed to mark the “ultimate redemption story”.
But Josh Dugan claimed he earned rugby league salvation well before being selected for the Kangaroos ahead of Friday night’s trans-Tasman Test in Brisbane.
Dugan, 24, was toasted by everyone from ARL Commission boss John Grant to the great Brad Fittler when he was named as one of four debutants for Australia this week.
Cynics might say scaling new heights was no surprise from a player who infamously blew off Raiders training to hold a booze session on his Canberra rooftop.
He was dumped by the Raiders in 2013 after posting pictures of that party with Blake Ferguson.
Social media again proved his undoing soon after when an ugly Twitter exchange with a Canberra “fan” ensured he blew a contract with Brisbane.
Barely two years after climbing down from his Canberra home’s roof, Dugan is again reaching for the stars thanks to his rise to Test player status.
However, Dugan believed he had completed his redemption tale long ago after accepting a St George Illawarra lifeline.
“It was always going to be said,” Dugan said, when reminded that Fittler described him as “the ultimate redemption story”.
“But I felt that I had redeemed myself before that.
“I have been doing all the right things since I came back into the game.
“This is another milestone. I am definitely proud of what I have achieved.”
Dugan seemed more keen to hear what his family thought or the opinion of Dragons coach Paul McGregor, who took a chance and pushed for the ex-Raiders fullback to embrace playing centre.
However, he did seem chuffed that Grant – one of the men he had to convince to receive a second NRL chance in mid-2013 – was now among his admirers.
“It is good that the administration thinks that – it is definitely pleasing to hear,” said Dugan.
“But I will just keep doing what I am doing.”
Dugan even reckoned his Test debut was more to do with the ladder-leading Dragons’ form rather than his own.
“I was a bit surprised but at the same time I feel like my form has been pretty good,” he said of Test selection.
“I always thought there would be some reps in our team (Dragons) – when a team is winning you get those accolades.”