How does Josh Dugan keep getting selected?

David Lord Columnist

By , David Lord is a Roar Expert

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    When Australian rugby league coach Mal Meninga named his 24-man squad for the World Cup, there again was Josh Dugan.

    But there was no James Tedesco, recently voted the Rugby League Players Association Player of the Year, often rated as more prestigious than the Dally M.

    The RLPA award is voted by the NRL players throughout the season, and the argument is valid that to be named the best by his peers carries more weight.

    Dugan was nowhere in sight, nor was he in the Dally M final scoreboard.

    Is mighty Mal making mistakes for the first time?

    He was certainly mistake free in coaching Queensland to a record eight successive Origin series successes, before finishing with nine series from ten when he ended his interstate coaching career to take over the Australian job in December 2014.

    He made it crystal clear from the outset he wanted the green jersey with the big gold V to again be the pinnacle of the game – as it was when he played.

    In the interim, the Origin series has become the Holy Grail of the 13-man code, with Tests few and far between.

    Mal has so far proven his point, with seven Test wins from as many starts, although the World Cup is the first real litmus test.

    While his squad for the tournament is strong, there are some strange decisions, with the omission of Tedesco topping the list.

    There are six potential fullbacks, with Billy Slater the standout, followed by Darius Boyd, Valentine Holmes, Dane Gagai, Tom Trbojevic and Dugan – with Tedesco the one left out.

    Boyd, Holmes, and Gagai have been named as wingers, Dugan as a centre, but Tedesco also covers all three and should have been selected.

    Meninga has named three outstanding contenders for the number six jersey to replace the injured Johnathan Thurston – Michael Morgan, James Maloney, and Cameron Munster.

    Three covering one spot is overkill, and one of them could so easily have been left out for Tedesco.

    There are three halfbacks as well, with standout Cooper Cronk covered by Morgan, and second hooker Ben Hunt, who has only been upfront for the first time in the latter part of the season for the Broncos.

    Rarely has there been so much quality versatility among the backs, with Dugan the only passenger.

    No point in him buying a Lotto ticket, he’s used up all his good luck once he was selected. There’s a pretty fair chance he won’t get a game unless there are injuries.

    As for James Tedesco, he’ll wear Italy’s number one jersey in the World Cup in a travesty of justice.

    To pinch recently retired Corey Parker’s quote – “Nothing surprises me anymore.”

    David Lord
    David Lord

    David Lord was deeply involved in two of the biggest sporting stories - World Series Cricket in 1977 and professional rugby in 1983. After managing Jeff Thomson and Viv Richards during WSC, in 1983 David signed 208 of the best rugby players from Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales and France to play an international pro circuit. The concept didn’t get off the ground, but it did force the IRB to get cracking and bring in the World Rugby Cup, now one of the world’s great sporting spectacles