Dugan fit, Napa in doubt for Anzac Day
The Dragons have received a huge boost ahead of their Anzac Day clash against the Roosters, with coach Paul McGregor rating Josh Dugan's fitness "100 per cent" after the star fullback missed the past fortnight with a hamstring injury.
Dugan suffered the injury setback midway through the second half of his side's comfortable Round 5 win over the Wests Tigers but is expected to make his return on Tuesday after missing wins over Manly and North Queensland.
McGregor said his No.1 trained well last week and was a chance of taking on the Cowboys, but given the long turnaround between games, the coaching staff decided it was prudent to give him more time to recover.
"It was close to a grade two [strain] which meant he needed that extra time, but with the nine-day turnaround it wasn't worth pushing him out for the Cowboys when Jason [Nightingale] had done such a great job and Kurt Mann was healthy," he said.
"He probably ran at about 90 per cent on Saturday just before the game against the Cowboys. At training today (Wednesday), he was fantastic."
Fill-in fullback Jason Nightingale – who is set to return to his customary spot on the wing – said Dugan looked "great" at training and was looking forward to reuniting with him at Allianz Stadium.
"He trained most of the session today – I think he did all of the session actually – and he was running pretty well towards the end of last week so I think he's on track to return," he said.
The news isn't as positive for the Roosters who will be sweating on the fitness of firebrand prop Dylan Napa who has missed the past two matches with an ankle injury.
Roosters coach Trent Robinson said Napa's return was a day-to-day proposition, but the club is hopeful he will be right to go after being named on an extended bench.
"He's going to need every day to get ready. He'd be a very handy inclusion because you want players like that to play on Anzac Day, but I'm still not sure if he'll be right or not," Robinson said.
"He's still trying to run. It's an ankle injury – he'll remember contact, he knows how to do that – it'll be making sure his ankle's right."
Robinson wouldn't give too much away when quizzed on whether Latrell Mitchell would return to first grade after he was rested for last week's trip to Newcastle.
The 19-year-old has handled the situation well according to his coach, but is no certainty to regain his spot in the side after Joseph Manu performed admirably in the win over the Knights.
"He's been named in the 21, that's our system, so we'll see how he goes," Robinson said.
"We all had a break over the weekend and so did he. He's trained really well. I've said it a few times now, but the guy's a great guy. He knows how to train well and he knows how to deal with the setback so he's in a good frame of mind."
Roosters co-captain Jake Friend said it was a pleasant selection headache to have ahead of next Tuesday's crunch game, and added he would be good to go after starting from the bench against Newcastle due to illness.
"He (Mitchell) trained really well in the time off. He went away and had a few days off and he's ripped into the training. Joey Manu played really well as well so it's a good dilemma to have. I'm sure we'll find out tomorrow or Friday," Friend said.
"I'm all good. I only played 55 minutes last weekend so I feel fresh as.
"I was just a bit crook for a few days. I was probably 90 per cent by the time I played, but we've had a long turnaround so this week I'll be all good."