Dragons coach Steve Price says his side can become an NRL benchmark after their recruiting drive this season. Copyright: Renee McKay/NRL Photos.

Broncos bracing for Dugan's return

Broncos coach Anthony Griffin says there would be no surprise if the Dragons recalled their electrifying fullback Josh Dugan for Friday night's Round 4 clash against his side in Wollongong.

Dugan suffered a lateral knee ligament injury in the pre-season Charity Shield match against South Sydney and was slated to miss at least the first month of the season, with a return in Round 5 considered the best possible scenario. 

However, Griffin has an inkling that the Dragons' custodian may strap the boots on one week early to breathe more firepower into the Red V.

"I wouldn't be surprised to see him play, he's one of the best players in the game," Griffin said.

"His running game at fullback is one of the best there is. I think he was due back next week so I wouldn't be surprised to see him play tomorrow night."

Not only do Griffin's men need to nullify the threat of Dugan if he takes the field, but the Broncos' boss has identified multiple attacking threats that the undefeated Dragons can call upon.

"They've been excellent. They've played some great attacking football every week and they deserve their three wins," he said.

"All their key people are playing well. The two wingers and the people they bought in (Gareth) Widdop, Joel Thompson and (Sam) Williams.

"They've got a great young forward pack with (Trent) Merrin and (Tyson) Frizell and those types of guys. (Ben) Creagh's got a lot of experience. They are all in good form and playing well."

Griffin also gave specific mention to Dragons' wingers Brett Morris and Jason Nightingale, who combined to score all three of St George Illawarra's tries in last week's scrappy 14-12 win over the Sharks.

Morris's superman-like acrobatics to score his second try on the stroke of half-time from a pin-point Gareth Widdop kick highlights the danger that Brisbane wingers Lachlan Maranta and former Dragon Daniel Vidot are up against.

"The two wingers they've got have done everything in the game – they've won grand finals, played for their country and State of Origin. It really helps the team when they've got those types of guys in form which they've got at the moment," he said.

"It won't only be up to our wingers but the whole team to keep them at bay."

Lachlan Maranta will be tasked with the unenviable role of marking Morris, with the 21-year-old Broncos winger spending extra time practising under the high ball at training this week in order to defuse the constant aerial bombardment that Gareth Widdop's boot is sure to deliver.

"We always study the opposition kickers and he (Widdop) has done a great job. It's probably the first time in his career where he gets the ball when he wants it," Griffin said.

"He's had to play behind Cameron (Smith) and Cooper (Cronk) at Melbourne so he'd probably only get three or four kicks per game. So to jump straight into that (five-eighth) spot and be able to execute it the way he has, it's a real sign of the class he's got."

On the home front, Griffin feels that his team is getting better as each game rolls by and he's expecting his side to bounce back after last Friday's heartbreaking last-minute 30-26 loss to the Roosters.

"There approach has been good. We're all disappointed with what happened on Friday night and I suppose we'll find out how we've handled it tomorrow night," he said.

"We just need to keep improving what we do. If you draw a line through the last three games I think we've improved a little bit every week and that's the key for us again on Friday night.

"We just need to concentrate on ourselves and try to keep improving and if we do that we'll be happy and the results will come."