Josh Dugan of the Dragons is tackled by Jaelen Feeney of the Knights.
Josh Dugan of the Dragons is tackled by Jaelen Feeney of the Knights. PAUL MILLER

'We expect him to deliver': Dugan tipped to bounce back

ST George Illawarra players are backing Josh Dugan to get "back on the bus" with a big performance against the Bulldogs on Sunday.

Dugan was dumped from the team for the crucial game with Penrith last week after missing the team bus, but the Blues star looks to be a certain starter this week in the Dragons' must-win clash.

The Test centre had already taken plenty of criticism over his behaviour during the State of Origin series but long-time teammate Joel Thompson said Dugan was hurting after the bus incident and out to make amends against the Bulldogs.

"He put his hand up and he knew he made an error," Thompson said on Thursday.

"No one's perfect and I've been with Duges since (under-)20s and he normally bounces back pretty good from this type of stuff.

"We expect him to deliver, have a big game come Sunday."

Thompson, who played with Dugan throughout his five seasons at Canberra and for the past five years in Wollongong, said the rep star regretted his ill-discipline.

"He's an emotional guy and it hurts him when he does stuff up like that," he said.


Joel Thompson of the Dragons (right) and Paul Vaughan of the Dragons celebrate at full time of the Round 25 NRL match between the Penrith Panthers and the St George Illawarra Dragons at Pepper Stadium in Sydney, Sunday, August 27, 2017. (AAP Image/Craig Golding) NO ARCHIVING, EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Joel Thompson (right) with Dragons teammate Paul Vaughan. CRAIG GOLDING

"The boys back him 100% and we've all moved forward. We haven't really spoken about it, we've just gotten on with the job.

"I've been with Dugey now for probably 10 years. I know the type of person he is and the type of player he is.

"When things go against him, he normally gets his chest up and he delivers.

"He's trained really well this week and I expect a big game out of him."

Winger Nene MacDonald said Dugan had helped him train through the pain of a nagging knee injury over the past few weeks and said the 27-year-old had really worked hard since missing last week's win.

"He's really lifted this week and he's been training well. Being my centre, he's lifting me up and helping me out there, especially with my niggles, he's kept me going," MacDonald said.

Asked if Dugan was out to make amends, MacDonald said: "You'd have to ask him but if it was me, I'd want to make it up to the boys. Everyone else would want to make it up."