Forget Hayne, Dugan is the Blues’ great hope

Daly Cherry-Evans is looking forward to having an impact. Photo: Getty

Daly Cherry-Evans is looking forward to having an impact. Photo: Getty

NSW captain Paul Gallen has anointed Josh Dugan as the long-term successor to Jarryd Hayne’s No.1 Blues jersey.

Asked to fill the massive shoes of NFL hopeful Hayne in State of Origin I last month, Dugan was the Blues’ best in their heartbreaking 11-10 loss.

The St George Illawarra star again shapes as key to the Blues’ hopes of forcing this year’s series to a decider, and Gallen believes that will be the case for years to come.

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“Duges is the present and the future, it doesn’t surprise me how well he handled it,” Gallen said.

“I can believe how well he played, I never had a doubt he could do it (fill Hayne’s shoes).

“I remember at the start people were asking me who was going to be fullback and I said Josh Dugan, there was never a doubt in my mind he was going to do it.

“He has played before at Origin level, whether it was at fullback or in the centres, he loves this kind of football and it doesn’t surprise me one bit.

Dugan stamped his authority on game one. Photo: Getty

Dugan stamped his authority on game one. Photo: Getty

“I said before game one, ‘we don’t want him to be Jarryd Hayne we want him to be Josh Dugan’. You can’t replace Jarryd Hayne, he is a special player, but he is gone now, that is history.”

Dugan enjoyed a stellar performance in game one, in which he helped to set up the Blues’ opening try for Josh Morris and repeatedly carried back the ball with gusto.

His effort was only blighted by a field goal miss late in the piece that would have evened the scores up at 11-11. But it was a kick he was never meant to take.

“For the first few days I was thinking what if … and replaying a few things over, but I’m not one to dwell on things too much. I feel like we put ourselves in a position to win that game and we let it slip,” Dugan said.

“I was happy with the way I played and I felt I did my job for the team, that was the main thing for me. I wasn’t too worried about getting accolades or anything like that, I just wanted to make sure I did my best for the team.

“As a team we have to try not to put ourselves in a position where we have to defend four or five sets in a row.

“A couple of decisions under fatigue let us down last time, and we gave Queensland, who are a great attacking team too much ball in our half.

“For them to only win by a point after having so much extra ball, it was definitely pleasing for us but it still doesn’t change the fact that as a team we were all heartbroken after game one.”

NSW enjoyed their second full contact session at their Coffs Harbour base on Sunday with hooker Robbie Farah taking part in both sessions as he recovers from a shoulder complaint.

The Blues flew to Melbourne on Sunday afternoon.

Daly Cherry-Evans is looking forward to having an impact. Photo: Getty

Daly Cherry-Evans is looking forward to having an impact. Photo: Getty

Cherry a weapon

Andrew Johns feels Queensland are a more dangerous attacking outfit with Daly Cherry-Evans replacing Cooper Cronk in the Maroons’ side.

After losing his bench spot in Origin I due to a shoulder injury, Cherry-Evans slots into the Queensland halves alongside Johnathan Thurston for game two.

Rugby league Immortal Johns told Channel Nine’s Sunday Footy Show that means the Maroons’ attack is likely to have more thrust on its right side.

“I think they are a more-dangerous team with Daly being in on that right side,” Johns said.

“Daly plays more ad-lib, he is not as structured and organised as Cooper, but – when he decides to run the ball – Daly, he is really dangerous.”

However, Johns said the Blues would be boosted by the return of skipper Paul Gallen who missed NSW’s loss in Sydney last month with a hip injury.

“I love that Paul Gallen is back and everything coming out of camp is that he is such a spiritual leader,” Johns said.

“They seem to all take great comfort in Paul Gallen being there so I’m sure he will add so much with his presence and the way he plays, the way he affects the other players.”

GI back to full strength

Meanwhile, Queensland winger Darius Boyd expects Greg Inglis to bounce back to his best on Wednesday night at the MCG.

The barnstorming Maroons’ centre was a shadow of himself in Origin I after spending three nights in hospital battling tonsillitis in the lead-up.

However, Boyd hopes to resume his devastating combination with Inglis on NSW’s right side in game two.

“It’s usually pretty good (their understanding),” he said.

“I don’t think it was that good in game one because of the preparation.

“But I think we have had a good week so far and there’s a couple of days to go.”

– with AAP

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