Dugan fitness a gamble for Dragons: Bird

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    Josh Dugan has his bag packed for his first trip to Canberra since being sacked by the club. (AAP Image/Penny Bradfield)

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    Gold Coast co-captain Greg Bird believes a desperate St George Illawarra would be gambling by rushing recruit Josh Dugan into their NRL line-up.

    The former Canberra fullback was unveiled as a Dragon on Friday and is believed to be in line to join his new teammates for Sunday’s NRL clash with the Titans at Skilled Park.

    It means Dugan, sacked by Canberra in March, could be thrust into first-team action despite not playing since the Raiders’ round-one loss to Penrith.

    Titans enforcer Bird believes Dugan’s pent-up frustration could inspire him to a great debut for the Dragons or his lack of match fitness will be exposed.

    “You never know what he’s going to turn up with,” said Bird, who played in Dugan’s sole State of Origin appearance for NSW in 2011.

    “He’s a player who has been out of the game for a bit.

    “He could turn up and have a blinder but, on the other side of the coin, he hasn’t played for a while. His fitness might be down, so I’m sure we’ll try to run him around as much as we can with our kicking game.”

    Dugan’s elevation from rugby league outcast to starting player highlights the Dragons’ poor start to the season in Bird’s mind.

    With star back Brett Morris out with injury and the team sitting 12th on the ladder, Bird feels the 2010 premiers are the best opposition to face as the Titans aim to end a two-game losing run before the representative period.

    “There’s no better opportunity than St George,” he said.

    “They’ve had a rough start to the season themselves and suffered an injury to one of their best players in Brett Morris.

    “We’ve got to make sure we turn up but at our home ground … hopefully we can put on a good show.”

    The Titans had a boost on Saturday with representative forward Ashley Harrison cleared to play in his first start since injuring his ankle in April.

    The Queensland Origin forward will come into the Titans’ line-up at the expense of interchange forward Ben Ridge.

    “He is a massive part of our team, especially defensively holding that middle and core together,” Bird said.

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