He is poised to take the field in his third grand final in four years but star recruit Krisnan Inu says the Bulldogs’ remarkable season will count for nothing if they don’t get the job done against Melbourne on Sunday.
A member of the Parramatta side that lost to the Storm in 2009 and last year’s young Warriors that fell to Manly, Inu has more grand final experience than any of his Bulldogs team-mates.
But asked about his impressive achievement of playing in three deciders with three different clubs in such a short space of time, the 26-year-old said: “It’s good to be there – but you’ve got to win it.
“I don’t look at it as another grand final. Obviously everyone talks about that but winning it… that’s more important.”
Despite having been there twice before, 2012 will be the first time that Inu has come into a grand final part of a side that aren’t massive underdogs (although Canterbury are listed as marginal $2.05 outsiders.
And while he recognises the threat that Melbourne will pose, he is keen to share his past experiences with his team-mates.
“You look at last year – Manly were grand final specialists, the same as Melbourne are. You expect those teams to lift and come up with the big plays.
“But I’ll just try to play my part and be there for the boys and do all I can to help out. Obviously throughout the week, I’ve been there before and I’ll try and share my knowledge as best I can with the boys.”
A third grand final this season seemed highly unlikely for Inu early in the year when he fell out of favour with Warriors coach Brian McClennan and was relegated to the club’s NSW Cup side Auckland Vulcans.
But that all changed when a series of injuries at Canterbury saw the club searching for replacements. Inu answered the call and within a matter of days was starring in the Bulldogs’ Round 12 win over Sydney Roosters, scoring two tries and setting up another with a spectacular solo play. Incredibly, he has since kicked match-winning field goals against both South Sydney and Wests Tigers – the only two he has ever kicked in his 114-game NRL career – and has played all 15 games for the Bulldogs since his shock mid-season arrival.
Despite his stunning resurgence, Inu denied he was a different player now than the one who struggled for a start at the Warriors earlier in the year.
“I don’t know that I’m a different player … I’m a different player because of the colours but that’s about it,” he laughed. “But all of that stuff, it’s always been there, it’s just having the trust that ‘Dessie’ has given me and that opportunity to have a shot at field goal. I’m always there putting my hand up. I never expected I would get it (the ball) but I’m happy that now I’ve got a few.”
Inu said he knew he had made the right decision from the moment he arrived at his first training session at the Bulldogs and credited coach Des Hasler for giving him the self-confidence he had lacked at times in the past.
“I feel like I am [part of the team] – straight away from the first training session I didn’t feel out of place at all,” he said. “The boys that we have here are so welcoming. They’re a great bunch of boys and I was lucky enough to slot straight in.
“I’m very grateful for the opportunity Des gave me and the way he was at training encouraging me. It wasn’t so much in words but in actions. Picking me in my first week – he gave me a quick run-down on how things go here and then gave me that shot to run out with the boys straight away. I think that was a big step for me and it shows.
“All I ever wanted to do was play footy, which I wasn’t doing at the Warriors, and Des gave me that chance. You can’t say no to ‘Dessie’ – he is such a great man and he does a lot for anyone that he coaches.”