Inside this week's Big League magazine... Credit: Big League Copyright: Big League
Jarryd Hayne – and not Josh Dugan – is the Blues fullback who can make the Queensland defence most nervous in the State of Origin decider on July 17 according to Maroons legend and NRL 360 host Ben Ikin.
New South Wales coach Laurie Daley has another selection headache in the lead-up to the Blues team being named on Sunday, with Hayne (right), who was influential in Game One, slated to return from a hamstring injury.
Dugan was one of the Blues’ best against the Maroons in Game Two but Ikin says his lack of a passing game makes him much less of a danger than the elusive Hayne.
“That was my criticism of Josh Dugan and where I think he needs to evolve. He needs to figure out how he is going to get a pass in his game,” Ikin said. “I thought he was outstanding for New South Wales, I don’t think anyone tried harder than him, but outside of busting a tackle or beating a few blokes, he doesn’t make you nervous the same way Jarryd Hayne does.
“Jarryd Hayne can come into the line and throw a 20-metre bullet [pass] and hit a winger on the chest. A good fullback with a pass in his game is always planting the seed of doubt in the opposition defence but with Josh Dugan you know that if you can get up and make a tackle on him – which is not easy to do – you’d shut him down.”
The Maroons have no injury or suspension concerns leading into this weekend’s NRL games, but the fullback question is just one of a few Daley has to answer after their dismal performance at Suncorp.
The likely inclusion of James Tamou will knock one forward out of the rotation and the option to slot Hayne on the wing for Nathan Merritt is also on the cards. In addition, the Blues are also sweating on the fitness of inspirational leader Paul Gallen, who suffered an injury to the arch of his footy during the second Origin clash, something that can be difficult to recover from.
Losing their captain would be a bitter blow for the Blues, but Wests Tigers players are confident Robbie Farah would do a stellar job filling in. Farah has been vice-captain for the first two games and Tigers fullback James Tedesco said his impact as club captain is immeasurable.
“He makes a million tackles every week, you expect that from him,” Tedesco said. “Whether it’s defence or attack, he puts those kicks in the corner where you want them and he’s the first one down there chasing. His efforts are unbelievable.
“He brings a lot of confidence to the team. Having him around lifts our spirits. His talk is always great. Sometimes he’ll give constructive criticism which is always helpful for us.
“He’s definitely one of the best players I’ve played with and I’ve always appreciated his help and his leadership.”