Blues coach Daley defends choice of Dugan for Origin II
NEW South Wales coach Laurie Daley threw his support behind debutant prop Aaron Woods and the rejuvenated Josh Dugan at the Blues' team announcement ahead of Origin II on June 26 in Brisbane.
West Tigers' Woods and Dugan were the only changes to the top 17, with front-rower James Tamou suspended and last year's Blues prop Tim Grant nursing a broken hand.
The Blues fullback from the team's 14-6 win in game one, Jarryd Hayne, ruled himself out of the Brisbane showdown due to a hamstring injury.
Daley believes Tigers bookend Woods has all the attributes to handle the pressure of making his Origin debut at the cauldron of Suncorp Stadium, as the Blues will look to win and halt Queensland's seven-year series reign.
"Aaron has been playing really well. He's a young guy, but we're sure that he'll be able to handle the atmosphere up there at Lang Park," Daley said.
Daley has also been delighted with Dugan's attitude and form since being thrown a lifeline by the Dragons, following his sacking from Canberra due to off-field behavioural issues.
"He's a wonderful player, Duges. He had some issues at the start of the year, but his last five games for the Dragons have been outstanding," Daley said.
"If you look at his numbers, they're probably better than any other fullback in the game."
Daley has spoken to Dugan about his ankle soreness and the custodian told him he would be fine.
The first-year Blues coach said he was confident hooker Robbie Farah, who fractured a cheekbone in game one, would be okay to take the field.
"Robbie had his first running session this afternoon (yesterday). He pulled up really well from that. He still hasn't done any contact, and that will be monitored throughout the week," Daley said.
"But all the indications are that he'll be ready to go."
Josh Dugan, Brett Morris, Michael Jennings, Josh Morris, Blake Ferguson, James Maloney, Mitchell Pearce, Paul Gallen (capt), Robbie Farah, Aaron Woods, Ryan Hoffman, Luke Lewis, Greg Bird. Inter: Josh Reynolds, Andrew Fifita, Trent Merrin, Anthony Watmough.