Lee Gaskin July 18, 2012
Canberra Raiders captains, L-R Terry Campese and David Shillington at Raiders HQ, Bruce for the announcement of Defence Housing Australia to be the new major sponsor for the club. Photo: Melissa Adams
Terry Campese doesn't envy the tough decision coach David Furner has to make - whether to continue with the Josh Dugan five-eighth experiment or retain emerging playmaker Sam Williams.
While the Raiders are keeping their cards close to the chest about Dugan's return from an ankle injury, the NSW fullback used social media to confirm he was fit and raring to face the Cronulla Sharks at Toyota Stadium on Sunday.
Dugan was yesterday left out of an 18-man squad but resumes full training today.
Should he return, the million-dollar question is where he slots into the Raiders back line.
Asked if Dugan should be ushered back into the halves, former Australian and NSW pivot Campese replied, ''I'm not sure, Sammy's [Williams] been doing a great job there.
''People forget pretty quickly how the team performed against Melbourne. That was one of the greatest games I've seen them play in a long while.
''Hopefully Furnsey gives them all another shot and they can bring back that form.''
Dugan played four games in the No.6 jersey only for Williams to take his chance with both hands when Dugan injured his ankle.
Williams was originally given a crack at filling the void left by Campese's season-ending knee injury, but was then relegated to NSW Cup to work on his defence.
The Cooma product has made the most of his recall, forming a dynamic halves combination with Josh McCrone to spark back-to-back victories against the St George Illawarra Dragons and the Melbourne Storm.
While the Raiders regressed dramatically in last weekend's 38-26 loss to the Gold Coast Titans, Campese is confident the result was a one-off and faith should be shown in the side which shocked the ladder leader.
Compounding the dilemma is the outstanding form of makeshift fullback Reece Robinson.
The previously unheralded winger has become an attacking weapon with his ball skills and ability to create chances for his outside men.
''Reece has been in tremendous form,'' Campese said.
''It's a headache I guess Furnsey would like to have … where to put one of the star fullbacks in the game.
''He'll be in there somewhere, I'm just not sure where he will be if he's right to play.''
Campese has worked closely with Dugan and Williams since undergoing his second knee reconstruction in as many seasons earlier this year.
The 27-year-old is refusing to let the lengthy recovery get him down, and is focussed on returning for next year's opening round.
That's not to say he's given up hope of seeing his beloved Raiders replicate the feats of 2010 and surge into the finals. The Raiders must win six of their last seven games to feature in the finals.
It's a tough ask, but one Campese believes the Raiders have shown they are capable of achieving, provided they play a high-possession brand of football.
''This weekend is the most important game of the year,'' Campese said.
''The week before we completed 90 per cent and on the weekend it was nothing like that. With the team we have, we need to hang on to the ball.''
Prop Dane Tilse is unlikely to make his return from a rib injury, while Jarrad Kennedy is on standby for Josh Papalii, who has a knee complaint.
Cronulla Sharks v Canberra Raiders, at Toyota Stadium, 2pm.
TV time: Live on Fox Sports 2