Josh Morris is set to resume his epic State of Origin battle with Greg Inglis after being rushed into the NSW side to replace Josh Dugan.
Dugan pulled out on Sunday morning after aggravating the elbow injury he’d been carrying at training in Coffs Harbour.
Morris was summoned from Canberra just hours before he was due to play for Canterbury in their Sunday afternoon NRL clash with the Raiders and he linked with the Blues in Sydney.
Morris takes over Dugan’s spot at right centre in Origin I at ANZ Stadium on Wednesday night, resuming the one-on-one battles with Maroons great Inglis that have provided plenty of highlights in recent seasons.
“It is unlucky for Duges, but it is a great chance for me,” Morris said.
“It is always a good challenge against GI.
“He is always one of the best players in the game. He is hitting form at the right time so I will have my hands full there and I will enjoy that.”
Blues coach Laurie Daley acknowledged his good fortune in having such a ready made replacement.
“(Dugan’s withdrawal) is a setback but we are lucky we have a guy like Josh Morris who was with us for a few days early in the camp,” Daley said.
“He has been with us for the past four or five years and he is an experienced player.”
“Josh was unlucky to miss game one but now he has another chance and I am sure he will be ready.
“He is a great defensive centre, he is a big body and I’m sure he is looking forward to getting out there.”
Morris flew from Canberra back to Sydney to join the Blues at the same time the side returned from the Coffs Harbour camp.
“My manager called me this morning, and I just jumped in the shower and went to the airport straight away,” said Morris, who had been released from the Blues’ extended squad three days earlier.
Dugan had been confident of playing despite the hyper-extended elbow injury he suffered playing for St George Illawarra against South Sydney two weeks ago.
But he copped a knock at training on Saturday in the Blues’ final session at Coffs Harbour that changed that.
“I just aggravated it at training yesterday,” Dugan said.
“I didn’t want to go out there not at 100 per cent on Wednesday. I know what kind of arena it is and it was probably one of the toughest decisions I have made. But it was what is best for the team.”
Blues legend Brad Fittler saw it as a good move.
“The importance of marking Greg Inglis, no doubt you’ve got to be a fantastic player, but you’ve got to be at 100 per cent health,” Fittler told Channel Nine’s Sunday Footy Show.
“The fact Josh Morris has spent time in camp, he’s been part of the NSW team for a long time now, he’ll slide back in.
“If anything, it makes that right side look a little bit more complete.”
Maroons great Trevor Gillmeister agreed.
“I thought he was unlucky not to be in the starting side, they all talk up what a good job he does on GI,” Gillmeister said.
“I don’t think you lose too much at all (with Morris in and Dugan out).
“Dugan probably brings a bit more with the footy, a bit more unpredictability.
“But with Morris you know what you are going to get. He is going to be solid. He will be up in GI’s face all night. They get a bit of depth there.”