Bulldogs vow to protect Noddy

Bulldogs captain Andrew Ryan has welcomed suggestions that Parramatta will target halfback Brett Kimmorley in Friday night’s grand final qualifier, insisting the veteran playmaker can handle whatever the Eels throw at him.<br><br>Kimmorley suffered a depressed cheek fracture during his side’s Round 25 win over the Warriors, the injury forcing him out games against Wests Tigers and Newcastle before he passed a fitness test last week.<br>Parramatta has since promised to work the 33-year-old over – but Ryan said he wasn’t concerned by his former club’s threats.<br><br>“He would know what to expect – the halves always get tested more than anyone,” Ryan told NRL.com today. “He has the most impact with the ball so opposition teams try and sort him out and get at him when they’re defending.<br><br>“This week will be no different.<br><br>“But ‘Noddy’ has been around for a long time so he will be expecting a lot to come his way.<br><br>“He is a great player and I’ve got no doubt he’ll deal with it.”<br><br>However, Ryan said it was also up to the Bulldogs’ forwards to limit the opportunities Parramatta have to pressure Kimmorley, whose kicking game has been a feature of his side’s surge in 2009.<br><br>Ryan has already singled out Eels enforcer Fuifui Moimoi as a danger man this Friday and admitted his side couldn’t afford to let him dominate like he did in their 27-2 win over the Gold Coast last week when playing just 44 minutes.<br><br>“Whenever a side gets an opportunity to put pressure on it’s always on the back of their forward pack going well,” he said.<br><br>“Our forward pack has a huge challenge in front of us this week because they’ve got a lot of big guys in good form.<br><br>“Fui, Nathan Cayless and Nathan Hindmarsh have all been in really good form.”<br><br>Whether the week off hurts or hinders the Bulldogs remains to be seen.<br><br>Despite assurances that the respite came at the best possible time for the club, Ryan has witnessed first-hand the problems that can face a rested side, after the Bulldogs were knocked out by Brisbane in the corresponding game in 2006.<br><br>Conversely, their 2004 premiership win saw them storm home with three consecutive wins after dropping their opening finals game against North Queensland.<br><br>“I think if you can get a break at this time of year it’s great to take it,” he said.<br><br>“We’ve had a couple of blokes that were trying to overcome niggling injuries.<br><br>“We had our last bye in Round 13 so it’s been a pretty long stretch for us.<br><br>“I know that in 2004 we had to play every week but I still think advancing straight through to Week Three can only be a good thing.”<br><br>It is shaping as a huge few weeks for Ryan, who began his career with the Eels in 2000 and was a member of their 2001 grand final side before joining the Bulldogs in 2003.<br><br>In a remarkable twist of fate, he wound up captaining the Bulldogs to the title less than two years later after club captain Steve Price was injured in the preliminary final win over Penrith.<br><br>“I guess it was all a bit hectic at that time,” Ryan said. “I took over the reins in that last game when Pricey was injured and my first week as captain was grand final week. <br><br>“It was a pretty massive week. <br><br>“I guess I’ve had a fair bit of experience as captain since then so I’ll know how to deal with it better.<br><br>“But the big thing for me is coming back from what happened last year – it’s more pleasing in that way than anything.<br><br>“It was such a disappointing season, so for me it’s just great to be involved in semi-finals again.”