Rabbitohs our biggest test: Hodkinson
Bulldogs star Trent Hodkinson believes South Sydney and their bounce-back factor will test everything about his resurgent team on Thursday night.
Not limiting the threats among the premiership co-favourites to just one or two men, halfback Hodkinson is adamant that the entire team will prove whether the Bulldogs are the real deal heading into the finals.
But he also knows they will gain enormous momentum if they can emerge with the two competition points.
With fullback Greg Inglis an ever-present threat out the back, their halves on song and George Burgess returning from suspension to boost the South Sydney pack, the Bulldogs are aware their opponents will be looking to bounce back from an uncharacteristic 22-10 loss to the Cowboys.
"They have a big, mobile forward pack and then there's big GI who is causing havoc out the back so right across the paddock they have good structures in place and we need to contain them right across the board," Hodkinson said.
"It will have a massive impact on us if we win this match. The confidence we will take out of it will be nice but we need to prepare as well as we can because it isn't going to be easy."
Bulldogs forward Dale Finucane agreed, saying North Queensland had done his team no favours leading into the penultimate round of the season.
"You're always itching for a win after you have had a big loss and with the Rabbitohs being a top-four team, they might want to even top off their season with the minor premiership as well, so they'll be ready to go," Finucane said.
"They're up there as one of the best teams in the competition. Obviously they have some really big bodies and they have some guys in there who have the ability to offload through the line, so their dynamics are quite varied.
"We're keen to test ourselves up against one of the heavyweights of the competition, which will be good for us."
The Bulldogs have an ace up their sleeve though after sneaking away with a one-point win over South Sydney on Good Friday.
Amid their early-season, seven-game winning streak, the Bulldogs accounted for South Sydney in Round 7, although Finucane insists that was a long time ago.
"Not really," Finucane said when asked whether the Dogs would draw from their earlier win over the Rabbitohs.
"Obviously it was a good win for us. We'll use similar tactics when we are analysing their team, and where best to go for us. But I don't think we look too much into past performances of teams we have played previously."
"Obviously coming off the back of four losses and recently having two good wins, we are just looking forward to testing ourselves against a team in the top four with the finals just around the corner."