Maybe Jarryd Hayne’s boots can be filled.
Josh Dugan gave NSW fans plenty of reasons to think so with a brilliant performance in the Blues’ No.1 jersey he inherited from the aspiring NFL player and former NRL superstar in the Origin series-opener won 11-10 by Queensland at ANZ Stadium.
Courageous at the back, Dugan defused bombs, constantly repelling attacking raids as NSW were peppered by Queensland halves Cooper Cronk and Johnathan Thurston on Wednesday.
He narrowly missed a field goal in the dying stages that would have levelled the game but it was a panicked play from Blues dummy-half Robbie Farah – Dugan wasn’t supposed to get the ball.
Dugan admitted it was a tough loss to take, but has backed his side for in game two at the MCG on June 17.
“It’s hard to take at the moment, but we know we weren’t at our best tonight and we’ve got some things to improve on,” Dugan said.
The St George Illawarra star produced the game’s most exciting moment when he rocketed onto a James Tamou offload in the first half before kicking deep to centre Josh Morris who scored one of the best long-range Origin tries seen in years.
The modest Dugan played down his part in the four-pointer that opened the scoring for NSW in the 20th minute.
“I felt like I played pretty well and that try was nice but I couldn’t have done that without my teammates around me,” he said.
Dugan, who ran for 167 metres from 15 carries, said the Blues did some good things in the game, which they led 10-6 at halftime, but admitted they must improve for game two.
“Our completions, our kick-chase and giving them piggy packs from their own end cost us tonight,” he said.
“I think they got on the front-foot too many times and we gave a great side too much ball.
“There was one point there where we defended six sets on the our line and they kicked a field goal.”