Bitter injury blow for Dragons and Dugan
Dragons fullback Josh Dugan has been dealt a savage injury blow in Friday night's 30-12 win over the Kiwis with a fractured cheekbone set to keep him out for anywhere from two to eight weeks.
It was a case of friendly fire again for the Kangaroos centre, who was forced from the field in the 48th minute following a nasty accidental head clash with Kiwi prop and Dragons teammate Russell Packer.
It was coincidentally the second time Packer has concussed Dugan this year following an accidental elbow while both were playing for the Dragons back in Round 3, attempting to tackle Cronulla's Paul Gallen in an incident that saw the club fined for a breach of concussion protocols.
Speaking after the game, Kangaroos coach Mal Meninga confirmed a facial fracture for Dugan but said scans were yet to reveal the extent of the damage.
"We believe it's a depressed fracture of the cheekbone," Meninga said on Friday night.
"He's at hospital at the moment. We're waiting on some news there. His cheekbone's definitely broken but we're not sure the extent yet."
Dugan himself also confirmed the early prognosis later on Twitter, though further scans are still required to determine the extent of the injury.
Definitely fractured my cheekbone, will be seeing a specialist in Sydney in the coming days. Pt1— Josh Dugan (@Josh_Dugan) May 5, 2017
It is a bitter blow for the Dragons, who are already without skipper and five-eighth Gareth Widdop (knee) and using back-up utility Kurt Mann in the halves. They will also need to turn to a third-choice goal-kicker after Dugan took over kicking duties once Widdop was injured.
A reshuffle would likely see Taane Milne or Kalifa Faifai Loa starting in the backline with Jason Nightingale moving to fullback though theoretically coach Paul McGregor could recall Junior Kangaroos star Jai Field as a starting half with Mann shifting to the back.
While Panthers pair Peta Hiku and James Fisher-Harris have each come back from facial fractures in short order already this season, missing one and three games respectively, Canterbury's Will Hopoate (six weeks) shows how variable the injury can be.
A worst-case result would rule Dugan out of Origin I and put his Origin II hopes in doubt.