Bulldogs wary of vengeful Panthers
Don't think for a second there will be any trepidation or back-pedalling from the Bulldogs on Sunday afternoon, but they aren't silly either and are fully aware the Penrith Panthers will take no prisoners when it comes to their opening clash of the season.
Preparing for a rematch of the preliminary final that ended Penrith's campaign last season, Canterbury five-eighth Josh Reynolds was approaching the game with plenty of caution.
"Penrith went really well last year and they're a tough side to beat because they just hang in there and do all the little things well," Reynolds said.
"Playing out there on a hot Sunday arvo out in Penrith is going to be a tough start to the season but a good test to see where we are at.
"They'll come out firing, and not just because we knocked them out last year – they have some quality players so we're going to have to make sure we're on the ball."
Bulldogs centre Tim Lafai, much like his teammate Reynolds, is on red alert for a Penrith onslaught.
Marking up on the much larger Jamal Idris this week, Lafai is focused on improving on a 2014 breakout season that featured 14 tries and 97.1 metres per game.
"Penrith have a good system there and they'll be focused on building from last year. They'll definitely be strong," Lafai told NRL.com.
"It's really important that I improve on last year's season. I just have to be confident, do my best and keep the consistency flowing.
"It's just a matter of focusing in on the jobs I'm given by Des as a centre. I'll keep building the more I learn the little things within my role, whether that's at training or on the field."
While he's aiming to step up a new level on the field, it's off the field where Lafai is set for a bigger change. Lafai's wife Jacqui is due to give birth to their first child in a few weeks' time – a moment the 23-year-old Bulldog is more than excited about.
"I'm preparing for, what I've been told will be, sleepless nights," Lafai laughed.
"It is coming along well and she is doing awesome. I'm looking forward to another stepping stone for myself. It gives me that extra motivation knowing you'll have a little one soon and that you have to work harder.
"I'm sure that's what my parents did for me so I'll have to do the same for my wife and my little girl when she comes. I'm looking forward to the challenge of becoming a father."