A shattered Josh Dugan is in danger of missing the opening State of Origin clash for NSW after damaging the AC joint in his left shoulder in Canberra’s 14-8 NRL loss to the Sydney Roosters on Sunday.
Dugan left Allianz Stadium with his arm in a sling and did not speak to media, but he made his feelings about both the injury and the defeat clear in a Twitter posting.
“Devastated. But the boys are staying positive and to you haters, keep hating gives us motivation,” wrote Dugan.
The 21-year-old will undergo scans on Monday to ascertain the severity of the injury but Raiders coach David Furner said the initial prognosis from medical staff was that his star would be ruled out for “up to four to six weeks, maybe even longer”.
Should he be out for six weeks, Dugan would miss the NSW City v Country match in Mudgee on April 22, but return for round nine against Manly, two weeks ahead of the State of Origin opener in Melbourne.
If the injury proves to be more serious, he would be forced to miss a third successive Origin after performing superbly in last year’s opener, only to miss the next two matches with a calf injury.
Veteran Roosters fullback Anthony Minichiello took over as Dugan’s replacement in the 2011 series, after Manly star Brett Stewart deemed himself not ready as he made his way back from a career-threatening knee injury.
With Jarryd Hayne battling a knee issue and Kurt Gidley also out with a dislocated shoulder, the door could now open for Stewart to return to the Blues side for the first time since 2008.
Raiders prop David Shillington, who was forced to play 71 minutes for his side with injuries to fellow forwards Trevor Thurling (knee) and Shaun Fensom (bicep)in the first half, revealed Dugan cut a desolate figure in the sheds as he contemplated another long spell on the sidelines.
“He’s a tough player to replace Doogs, he has some freakish ability and he’s a bit down in there,” Shillington told AAP.
“Hopefully for him, and for us it is not too bad and he’s back out on the paddock soon.”
In Sunday’s other games, South Sydney mentor Michael Maguire tasted victory for the first time as an NRL head coach as his side beat Penrith 40-24 at Centrebet Stadium.
And Canterbury joined Melbourne – who beat Gold Coast on Saturday – and Manly – who face Cronulla on Monday – as the only teams with 100 per cent records in 2012 with a fine 32-18 win over the Warriors in Auckland.
Des Hasler’s Canterbury relinquished a 16-0 lead to trail 18-16 early in the second half before two late tries sealed the two points.
Maguire rang the changes following his side’s defeat by Melbourne, with Greg Inglis starting at fullback and it worked a treat with the Queensland superstar scoring a try.
Giant second rower David Taylor scored two tries to end a run of two successive defeats for the Rabbitohs.
Parramatta coach Stephen Kearney is under mounting pressure after his side became the first Eels outfit to lose their first three games since 1991 when they slumped 42-6 against North Queensland in Townsville on Saturday.
Kearney has tasted defeat in 20 of his 27 games at the helm of the club and his team will be the only side without a win should Cronulla beat Manly at Toyota Stadium on Monday night.