St George Illawarra fullback Josh Dugan has revealed he probably shouldn't have played against his old club in the Dragons' season-turning opening win of the season in Round 3.
Dugan injured an ankle in the Round 1 loss to the Storm and missed the second game – a loss to the Wests Tigers – then rushed back to face his old club in Canberra in what turned out to be an eventful and crucial game.
The side surged back from 18-0 down despite Dugan being sin-binned halfway through the second half in the middle of the comeback to claim the match 22-20. They haven't lost since, beating Manly at home then the previously unbeaten Newcastle away.
Dugan says excitement to play at his old home ground against the side that cut him loose for a series of off-field incidents formed part of the motivation for his early return.
"I probably came back too early – I was just excited about playing in Canberra and it was my 100th game as well," Dugan said.
"I probably could have given it that extra week but I did everything that was put in front of me. I pulled up pretty sore after the game but ever since then it's been getting better week in week out which is expected as the scar tissue grows over it.
"I pulled up pretty much 100 per cent [after the Newcastle game] apart from a few bumps and bruises from being such a tough game but structure-wise and anything else the ankle's good and I've just got to stay on top of it."
Dugan said he couldn't pinpoint the turnaround in the side's season but conceded his sin-binning may have fired up his teammates.
"It was the longest 10 minutes of my career probably, I was asking how long to go every minute or two!" he laughed.
"I guess me being sin-binned sort of just triggered them and it was a make or break situation where they could have put another 20 on us, or we defended our butts off and stay in the game.
"I guess we went the right way about it which goes to show the attitude's changed in defence and we really pride ourselves on that now. We've just got to keep tinkering with our attack.
"There was a lot more urgency and we had the feeling that we could win the game. Since then I haven't felt like we were in a position where we were going to lose. If we keep that attitude in defence and keep doing what we've been doing the attack will come."