Morris absence a plus for Dragons
A hamstring injury to Brett Morris has all but denied the experienced Bulldogs fullback a chance of playing his former club, the St George Illawarra Dragons, this coming Sunday afternoon.
Reportedly set to miss upwards of six matches after going down in the final moments of the Bulldogs' controversial loss to the Rabbitohs on Good Friday, Morris will now have to wait until Round 13 to face the club he scored 112 tries for in 169 games, including their 2010 Grand Final victory over the Roosters.
While the Dragons would have loved to have played their former teammate they also realise without him their upcoming opponents are a slightly weaker prospect considering Morris's good showings since moving to Belmore.
"You never want to see anyone go down with injury and I'm sorry that he has but obviously for Brett Morris not to be playing – that helps us so much," Dragons forward Jack de Belin said following the Red V's win against Newcastle.
"He's a gun. I played alongside him for four years and I know how good he is. He's dangerous from anywhere on the field. It will definitely affect the Bulldogs not having him out on the field because he's essential."
Red V five-eighth Gareth Widdop added: "It's unfortunate for 'Moz'. He would've obviously loved playing against his former club.
"He's in tremendous form for the Bulldogs and you want to see the best players on the paddock but unfortunately it isn't to be this time around.
"Regardless, they are still a very good team and they were very unlucky [last round] so no doubt they'll be coming out this week to get the win."
While it remains to be see who will be joining Morris and centre Tim Lafai (leg) on the sidelines, Bulldogs quartet Sam Kasiano, Josh Morris James Graham, and David Klemmer are set to come under scrutiny by the match review committee, with the latter two sure to be cited for their ruthless tirade on referee Gerard Sutton after he blew a penalty which led to the Rabbitohs' win.
Widdop, who plays for England alongside Graham, said the Bulldogs captain's outburst was a byproduct of his passion for the game.
"[Graham] was certainly very angry and that's because he's just a very passionate player and you want those kind of players in your team," Widdop said.
"He's a very fiery player and good leader but I'm sure the NRL will deal with his last start performance accordingly."
Meanwhile, the Dragons are riding high off the back of their third-straight win against Newcastle on Easter Saturday.
Adding to their wins over Canberra and Manly, Widdop said their recent performances – where they have conceded only one try in their past 220 minutes of football – is a matter of the Red V finally clicking as a unit.
"The last few weeks have been great. We obviously started the season off slow and have since turned things around," Widdop said.
"We're still early on in the season but we are definitely taking plenty of positives from our past three wins. We're just working a lot better as a team and clicking a lot more. If we keep playing our individual games then we'll keep having success."
While the Bulldogs will have to draw from their reserve stocks this weekend, the Dragons will have no such concerns with captain Ben Creagh set to return from a back injury and Josh Dugan overcoming a concussion suffered in the final moments of their win over the Knights.