Matt Encarnacion, Western Sydney Correspondent
Canterbury-Bankstown forward Greg Eastwood admits the logjam of the NRL mid-table has left him nervous about his side's chances of playing finals football.
For the seventh-placed Bulldogs, the equation is simple: win against the Gold Coast and you live for another week.
But lose, and your fate rests in the hands of the rugby league deities. And with a points differential vastly inferior to the Storm, Broncos and ninth-placed Warriors, their hands are rather shaky.
"I guess it is [nerve-racking], but I think if we play the way we can, if we can compete, it will show people that we are finals contenders," Eastwood told media on Wednesday.
"If we want to win the comp, we've got to win five in a row. It definitely starts this week and will carry on from there."
In a boost to the Bulldogs' premiership assault, five-eighth Josh Reynolds returns after a three-week suspension for a combination of lashing out with the boot and a high tackle charge against Brisbane in Round 22.
"It's always good to have a player like him back in the side. He's passionate about his team," Eastwood said of Reynolds.
"In saying that, Moses [Mybe] has been playing well for us since he come in. He's done a great job. Full credit to him and I hope he gets another chance.
"We missed [Reynolds] a little bit. Our defence has been winning us games and we've got to focus on that this week again, [but] Josh will add that little bit extra to our game."
Teammate Tony Williams revealed he had already had a word to Reynolds about ensuring his on-field antics wouldn't get him in trouble with the match review committee for a third time this season.
"We've spoken before, I told him to keep the tackles low and a bit smarter than what he has been," Williams said.
"But we love the passion he plays with, he plays with his heart. That's what we love about him. To get him back at this time of the year is a big boost, especially going into the finals."
Asked whether he had advised Reynolds to tone down the aggression, Williams said: "Not really stop the aggression – that's what he builds his game on. He just has to be a bit smarter. We don't tell him to stop anything. Just be smarter in tackles."
Since the club's hard-fought win against Melbourne back in Round 18 – a game which Reynolds also missed due to a different suspension from Origin – the 2012 grand finalists have won just two of their past seven games.
And part of that is because their first-choice halves pairing of Reynolds and No.7 Trent Hodkinson have played together just twice since their breakthrough Origin series win culminated in early July.
Eastwood was hopeful that the reunion of the club's representative duo, as well as the experience they gained from a successful Origin campaign, would help the club in their finals push.
"It's been tough not having that half pairing for a bit of the season, but we've just been battling on," he said.
"We've come away with a few wins, crucial wins, to help us get through that. Hopefully they bring their Origin combination together and work hard for us."