Greg Prichard,, NRL.com
Canterbury star Josh Reynolds has given a brutally honest account of how the Bulldogs are feeling as they sit at the opposite end of the competition table to where they finished last season.
"We know it's not acceptable," Reynolds said of the team's poor start to the season, which has seen them register just one win and five losses. "No-one's happy with the way we're going, and we've had a talk about it as a team this week.
"We're not doing the things out on the field that we want to do, and the most frustrating thing is that we know we can do them well. We know we can't keep going like this, because if we leave our run too much later it's not going to happen for us this season.
"It was a good, positive talk. It wasn't necessary to identify the areas in which we weren't playing well – we all know where we've been going wrong. We just wanted to make sure we were all on the same page about how to go forward from here.
"You can't just move on from week to week hoping for the win that changes everything, you've got to be proactive about it. It's not going to happen just because we want it to. We want to turn the corner, but we have to make it happen.
"We're not looking too far ahead, and we're not dwelling on what happened against the Roosters in our last game. We're just concentrating on this week."
Before the Anzac Round began, the Bulldogs – last year's minor premiers and beaten grand finalists – were in last place.
They are off the bottom – temporarily, at least – because the points differential of fellow strugglers the Warriors became worse than theirs as a result of an Anzac Day loss to premiers Melbourne.
But the difference is only a point, and the Bulldogs face a tough game against Cronulla on Sunday. It is a Sharks home game that the club has taken to Bluetongue Stadium in Gosford.
Cronulla, with two wins and four losses, are not doing a lot better than the Bulldogs, but their main playmaker – five-eighth Todd Carney – is scheduled to return for this game after missing the past two with injury.
Carney faces not only the challenge of trying to get the Sharks back on track. He also needs to make up ground in the race for the NSW No.6 jumper for State of Origin.
Sydney Roosters five-eighth James Maloney has laid a serious claim in recent weeks, and Reynolds was already in the reckoning.
Reynolds says this is not the time for him or any other player at the Bulldogs to be sensitive, as the team makes an honest assessment of where it is at.
"And that's the good thing about our side," Reynolds said. "We know that constructive criticism is meant to try to help us find the way out. I love it when Mick Ennis, for example, says we're not doing 'this' right, or we shouldn't have done 'that'. You can't be thin-skinned about it."
The Bulldogs were cleaned up at their last start by one of the form teams in the competition, the Roosters. It was 38-0 in the end. Reynolds said the opposition simply wanted it more than the Bulldogs did that night.
"We just got out-enthused," he said. "They were more up for the game than we were. We were in the game and competing well early on, but then the same thing happened – mistake, penalty – and next thing we knew, we were under pressure."
Because of the stand-alone representative weekend, the Bulldogs will have had to wait 16 days to get the chance to try to make amends for that loss by the time they run on against the Sharks.
Reynolds was forced to withdraw from the City side for last weekend's game against Country because of a shoulder injury, and that may have damaged his bid for a Blues jumper. But he says he is ready to go against Cronulla.
The Sharks won two of their first three games this season, but have since lost three straight to fall out of the top eight.
"They're going to be desperate," Reynolds said. "They've only got one more win than us, so it's going to be a clash between two sides that badly need a win."