'Professional' Dugan praised by plenty
Whether the compliments came from his coach Paul McGregor or veteran teammates like Benji Marshall, Josh Dugan was the rule of the roast following his team's huge 42-6 local derby victory over the Sharks on Sunday, the fullback's second game in five days.
One of New South Wales' best in Origin I on Wednesday, after producing 178 metres, a try assist and four tackle breaks for the Blues, Dugan backed it up with an explosive 226 metres and a try to help sink the Sharks to a new low in 2015.
McGregor said Dugan's form wasn't something that just happened overnight either, rather hard work was finally paying off for the 25-year-old recent Australian debutant.
"He's built on last year's performances, remembering he moved to centre where he made a fist of it, and to come out of that and go back to fullback shows that a lot of things have come good over a little while," McGregor said.
"It shows his professionalism, it shows his preparation and certainly shows he's now an Australian player. He's gone to another level and I think he's in the form of his career and to back up after a tough performance on Wednesday night, there aren't many who can do it so he's in the elite class there."
Drawing from similar examples as his coach, Marshall drew from Dugan's influence from an on-field perspective, one which many punters may not realise at first glance.
"You only have to be around training to see how much he's changed his approach. The things he is doing on the field, like the way he fights to play the ball, the next guy gets the benefits of that – people don't see that," Marshall said.
"In defence, he's the one who gets the numbers right and has to adjust it so if he gets it wrong then we get scored against. You can credit a lot of our defence to the way he's going as well. I'm glad he's on our team."
In fact Marshall could not only see the benefits of Dugan's time spent in Laurie Daley's Origin camp over the past few weeks, but in Trent Merrin's game as well.
Merrin, as well as NSW 18th man Tyson Frizell, put forth typical displays for the Red V in what was an otherwise dominant display from the equal-competition leaders to make it eight wins from their past nine appearances.
"I thought they were pretty awesome the way they backed up. Obviously after a tough loss they have come back into camp pretty upbeat and they really added a lot to our team," Marshall said.
"I thought 'Duges' was outstanding and 'Mez' led from the front. Tyson has learned a lot from that experience and brought a lot back so it's nice the Origin experience has rubbed off on a few of our own."