Mid-year camp rejuvenates Bulldogs for business end
The Bulldogs have touted a camp in the New South Wales coastal town Kingscliff, situated 15 minutes from the Queensland border and home to around 6000 locals, as an opportunity to revitalise themselves before the business end of the season.
With the Kingscliff camp giving Bulldogs players a chance to escape the Sydney rush over their bye round last weekend, the team has recharged the batteries ahead of the final 10 rounds of the season and September football thereafter, starting this Friday night against the Sea Eagles.
Influential Bulldogs and English prop James Graham was especially happy to see parts of Australia he wasn't expected to be exposed to.
"[Bulldogs coach] Des [Hasler] likes to get us away at least once a year, to get out of Sydney and get away together, and it was a change of scenery more than anything," Graham said.
"He let us kick back and enjoy ourselves which is nice and I enjoyed it up there. It was good to get up there and have a little chat with the locals and what not.
"It was good to get the boys together and get ready for this important lot of games we have coming up."
Up-and-coming Bulldogs forward Dale Finucane said the Kingscliff camp was a bonding experience the team's not usually afforded in the weekly grind of NRL football.
"We spend a lot of time together but it's usually in a football environment and we're always talking about football but this really gave us an opportunity to talk in a more social environment," Finucane said. "It was good to just relax up there and have a bit of R & R before this weekend's game."
With the Bulldogs missing halves Josh Reynolds and Trent Hodkinson this weekend due to Origin duty, the Bulldogs admitted they'll be up against it against Manly despite the Sea Eagles missing star halfback Daly Cherry-Evans.
With usual hooker Michael Ennis and back-rower Josh Jackson named to play in the halves this week, the Bulldogs' trip to Kingscliff could be seen as the turning point of their season if they are to pull off their first win of the season without their missing Origin duo.
"[Manly] are always a strong team and they're always competitive. They have good players in their key positions so you can put it down to their outstanding playing roster that's been really good for them," Finucane said.
"They have had some good forwards who have been playing really well for them. I don't think they are underdone. Brenton Lawrence has been really good for them and they have had a few young guys who have come through and done an excellent job."