How Good Is... Josh Dugan
While a conspiracy theory remains in regards to Josh Dugan's move from fullback to centre in 2014, it appears it has worked out best for everyone.
With Dragons coach Paul McGregor conceivably making the call to help out NSW counterpart Laurie Daley, who was looking for a quick-fix to his problematic right centre position for Origin II, Dugan has thrived out wide at both club and state level.
Dugan, usually spotted on a rugby league field in the number one jumper, moved to the centres midway through the season with plenty of fanfare. Although his seven appearances at fullback for the Dragons brought positives to the Red V, his impact in 2014 wasn't quite felt until he moved to the three-quarters.
While Dugan's immediate future is in the air as to what position he'll pursue in 2015, the Origin-winning centre is odds-on favourite to keep the good times rolling out wide.
The fact the former Raider is now so competent in two positions is an indication of how good Dugan has become throughout his tumultuous NRL career.
What made 2014 so special?
Dugan's transformation from gun fullback to impact centre was something special.
Plenty (including myself) literally wrote him off as a centre after just one game, but Dugan has certainly showed his perseverance since.
The South Tuggeranong Knights junior ended up being a key member of the Blues' drought-breaking State of Origin victory, extinguishing any impact his man opposite Greg Inglis could bring to the table.
In club land, Dugan finished with a remarkable 89 tackle breaks at a rate of 4.9 busts a game (4th in the NRL), while his 10 tries and 121.2 metres per game were nothing to shirk either.
How can he be better in 2015?
Having played fullback the majority of career, the road to becoming a class centre was never going to be the easiest – especially in defence.
Coming from a position where defence isn't a priority, there was always going to be facets of Dugan's game where he would struggle.
The reality of his defence saw Dugan finish 25th across the competition for most missed tackles.
At a rate of 3.4 missed tackles per game, Dugan should and will be looking to tighten the screws in his own defensive game in an attempt to prevent any loose ends out wide. Though having world class winger Jason Nightingale next to him will help.
Which new signing will have the greatest influence on him?
The arrival of that former Shark, Storm, Warrior and Queensland Origin centre Dane Nielsen – and the departure of Gerard Beale and Kyle Stanley – is more than just a shake-up of the Dragons' three-quarter line.
At the height of his career in Melbourne Nielsen was arguably one of the NRL's better centres under Craig Bellamy, earning himself three Queensland caps for his troubles.
Now with the 29-year-old, 100-plus game veteran moving to Wollongong from Auckland, his advice on life in the centres should prove valuable for Dugan – who, despite his initial success, is still developing in the position.
As Dugan has said previously, he's only just scratched the surface of what he's capable of in the centres.