Josh Dugan fractured his cheekbone against New Zealand.
Josh Dugan fractured his cheekbone against New Zealand. LUKAS COCH

JT, Dugan doubts for Origin opener

JOSH Dugan is expected to miss the State of Origin series opener after breaking his cheekbone in Australia's 30-12 Test win over New Zealand on Friday.

The St George Illawarra star was forced from GIO Stadium midway through the second half after clashing heads with Kiwis prop and Red V teammate Russell Packer.

Kangaroos coach Mal Meninga confirmed Dugan had been taken to hospital.

"Josh was nearly our best player in that first half, the whole team's defence was outstanding, but him on the right edge was fantastic,'' Meninga said.

"We believe it's a depressed fracture of the cheekbone.

"We haven't heard anything back from the hospital, we're waiting on some news there, but it's definitely a broken cheekbone.''

The off-contract fullback-centre started the Test in fine touch with a magical try as he presses his claims for a $1 million a season deal.

But with the Dragons only willing to offer him centre money, negotiations have stalled.

With an estimated recovery time of six weeks, Dugan is now expected to be sidelined for the first two games of the Origin series.

The Dugan injury could open the door for NSW coach Laurie Daley to call on Canberra gun Joey Leilua, former Blue Dylan Walker or even Penrith utility Tyrone Peachey.

Meanwhile, Johnathan Thurston could also miss the Origin opener after suffering a shoulder which could reportedly sideline him for four-to-six weeks.

"We are aware that JT has a shoulder issue but we'll wait for the scans and official diagnosis from the Cowboys," Queensland coach Kevin Walters said.

Cooper Cronk failed to finish the match after picking up a cork but isn't considered to be in any doubt for Melbourne's Round 10 clash with the Gold Coast on Saturday.

INJURED IN REP ROUND

Australia: Josh Dugan (cheekbone), Cooper Cronk (knee), Johnathan Thurston (shoulder)

Tonga: Tony Williams (ankle)

Fiji: Taane Milne (concussion)

Cook Islands: Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad (concussion)

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