Monster Bulldogs bench proving hard to stop
What has eight eyes and eight legs, weighs almost half a tonne and can induce a suspicious puddle at the feet of grown men with the mere thought of coming across it in a dark alleyway?
Thankfully that god awful giant spider from the Harry Potter series is just a figment of J.K. Rowling's vivid imagination, but if you threw a blue and white sweater on the bloody thing it'd look suspiciously like the marauding beast that's been buckling the plastic chairs on the sidelines of ANZ Stadium this year.
Legend has it the monstrous creature is actually the Bulldogs reserves bench, forged by mad scientist-cum NRL clipboard carrier Des Hasler on a dark and stormy night, and while the Wests Tigers interchange men have been rightfully receiving plenty of plaudits for their impact this year, the Dogs' big men are ensuring there's no rest for opposition packs when Hasler lets loose his latest and – as far as size goes at least – greatest creation.
With the likes of Greg Eastwood (112kg), Tim Browne (113kg) and David Klemmer (117kg) being joined by man mountain Sam Kasiano (122kg) last week, the Bulldogs bench against the Rabbitohs tipped the scales at a casual 464 kilograms, easily the heaviest in the competition.
"Yeah we're pretty big, and they're angry fellas too," laughs Kiwi international Eastwood, the lightest of the Bulldogs reserves who, believe it or not, started his career as a winger back in 2005.
Watch the NRL LIVE with a 2-week free trial.
Get the NRL Digital Pass now!
Having played more than half of his 148 career games with the Broncos and now the Bulldogs from the bench, Eastwood tells NRL.com he'll occasionally get in the ears of Browne and Klemmer to remind them just how big they are and how big a dent they can make in the defensive line.
"They fire themselves up most of the time, but I do have a word to them here and there, just through that experience," Eastwood says.
"A lot of my career I've started off the bench, I've been in that position before, and this bench is massive.
"When you get out there you're fresh, and it's on you to lift the boys.
"Often they're struggling just a little bit with gas and if you come on and make that big impact or big run it really lifts the boys.
"It can really turn a game around and the boys have been massive for us this year."
While you'd expect him to have the turning circle of a semi-trailer, the youngest of the Bulldogs benchmen Klemmer is fast developing a reputation for producing the game-turning plays Eastwood talks about.
It was Klemmer who hit Rabbitoh Jason Clarke like a sledgehammer in the 65th minute last week, forcing the ball loose and giving the Dogs the prime attacking opportunity from which they clawed their way back into the game through a Corey Thompson four-pointer.
"That was massive," says Eastwood.
"And it's just typical of the work he does around the middle.
"Seeing him come on, it lifts your energy and lifts the boys. Guys like him don't get credit enough for what they do."
If the Parramatta junior keeps producing the whirlwind efforts we've seen across the opening eight rounds – 95 metres in 14 minutes against the Panthers, 142 metres and three tackle breaks in half an hour against the Storm, 88 metres and three tackle busts in 19 minutes against the Warriors – those raps, and higher representative honours, could come sooner rather than later with a bench spot in Brad Fittler's City side not out of the question for the big bopper.
"Watching him come through the ranks playing 20's and the under-20's games for NSW he could handle [a call up to City] I think," Eastwood says of Klemmer.
"He's still young and he's got a long way to go, but if he misses out this year, I'm sure with more game time he's only going to get better and stronger down the line and push for those rep spots in the future."