RUGBY LEAGUE - DRAGONS
Josh Dugan believes his role in NSW's State of Origin series triumph is proof that interim coach Paul McGregor deserves the Dragons job long-term.
McGregor - a member of the NSW coaching staff - masterminded Dugan's move to the centres after he convinced Laurie Daley he could replace Josh Morris for Origin II.
It prompted the relaunch of one of the NRL's premier fullbacks in McGregor's first week as an NRL head coach after he replaced the sacked Steve Price.
Dugan rewarded McGregor by delivering impressive form for NSW and the Dragons, before Monday's loss to Manly, and is now pressing his claims for a maiden Test jumper at season's end.
The former Raiders star was emphatic when asked if McGregor was the man to lead the Dragons long-term.
"Definitely. I know myself and a lot of the other players will be backing him for the long run and I don't think that'll change," Dugan said.
"I have Mary to thank for helping me find some new form and getting back into the Origin side. It [the switch] was sort of in the making a while ago but Mary put the plan in full motion and it's really run-on from there.
"To be a part of NSW winning the series again it's something I'll never forget and coming back to the Dragons and playing good footy is something I'm really relishing.
"He's put a lot of confidence back into the boys. We're all really enjoying playing under his structure and his philosophies."
With the Origin series now complete, McGregor persisted with the move, leaving Dugan at centre in the Dragons 21-12 loss to Manly, and he said he's happy to remain in the No 4 jumper for the remainder of the season.
"At the moment it's just week by week but I'm definitely looking at finishing off the year in the centres," he said.
"In the end it's up to Mary and what he thinks is best for the team. Wherever he puts me I'll play."
It was a tough night for Dugan against the Sea Eagles as he was forced to make 22 tackles as he and Benji Marshall were targeted by Brett Stewart and Steve Matai.
He's expecting similar treatment against the Tigers this week on the back of a 46-18 thumping of the Bulldogs.
"I don't think we defended too badly I think there was just a few little mix-ups in communication which we'll get right during the the week.
"When you're making 20-odd tackles it fatigues you and takes you out of the game a bit so we've got to be ready for that again this weekend and really turn up for it," Dugan said.