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Fired-up Bulldogs forwards have sent a message to their NRL rivals who think they’ve found a weakness in the competitions brightest young star: “Bash up Jamal Idris at your peril.”<br><br>The Knights targeted Idris from the opening whistle of their qualifying final last weekend, determined to intimidate and unsettle the finals rookie with aggressive defence – including a high shot from Newcastle prop Richie Fa’aoso that left the 19-year-old with a bloodied lip.<br><br>But the Dally M Rookie of the Year responded with one of his best performances of the year, running for 134 metres, breaking 14 tackles and tearing the Knights apart in one explosive run to set up Luke Patten’s first try.<br><br>The performance has prompted team-mates to taunt opponents who see Idris’ youth as a weakness.<br><br>“Everybody tries to bash up the monster but Jamal is tough,” Greg Eastwood, who also proved a handful against the Knights, said.<br><br>“I don’t know why they targeted him so much this week. [His age] was probably a reason for it – they would look at him and know he’s inexperienced in finals footy.<br><br>“It was a silly tactic and I don’t think they should have done it because he proved a handful for Newcastle and he just kept coming the whole game.<br><br>“I thought Jamal has started using his size properly now, he’s got the right attitude and that’s what we want from him.”<br><br>Idris was a battered man after full-time last week, briefly speaking to the media before shuffling off to have a final consultation with the medical stuff while a club official helped wheel his training bag behind him.<br><br>But prop Michael Hodgson praised the maturity of the young pup and said he expected Idris to handle himself as the finals progress.<br><br>“If teams want to keep trying to do that, I welcome them to it because Jamal has shown he can stand up to it and come through it,” Hodgson told Big League.<br><br>“He copped a few shots for sure – he always seems to – but he is a big guy who can take care of himself.<br><br>“I don’t know if it was a tactic of theirs but if it was it didn’t work, if anything it just fired him up more – he was certainly hungry out there.”<br><br>Meanwhile, Melbourne Storm halfback Cooper Cronk believes the Storm will enjoy a significant advantage playing in front of a packed home crowd after earning a saloon passage into Week Three of the finals following their clinical victory over Manly last round – but favouritism doesn’t scare them.<br><br>“It will be good, it’s an exciting time to be playing footy, there are big crowds, the tackles are harder, there’s more atmosphere, it’s what you enjoy about finals footy,” the attacking general said.<br><br>“Whether it is Week One or Week Two or Three it shouldn’t really matter [how you play], I just thought the way we went about it and did the things we spoke about during the week were the most pleasing things to come out of it.<br><br>“It doesn’t worry us [being among the favourites] – we know that going into games whatever is said beforehand doesn’t have an inkling [of influence] on the result.<br><br>“Last time we played Manly we had plenty of chances but we sort of had a little speak about it – there’s no secret that our defence is what we build our game upon. We just need to use our time wisely and prepare the best way we can.”
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