Captain Tolman has faith in new faces
The Bulldogs may have come out of their Good Friday clash against the Rabbitohs looking worse for wear, but stand-in captain Aiden Tolman says he has faith in the host of new players named by coach Des Hasler to play the Dragons this weekend.
With James Graham (four weeks), David Klemmer (three weeks) and Sam Kasiano (two weeks) all suspended and Brett Morris (hamstring) and Tim Lafai (knee) suffering long-term injuries, the Bulldogs will field a vastly different-looking side on Sunday.
Hasler has named Tim Browne, Lloyd Perrett and Antonio Kaufusi to replace the suspended trio while Sam Perrett has been named at fullback, with Corey Thompson coming in on the wing, for Morris. Moses Mbye will shift to the centres for Lafai with Josh Reynolds moving to five-eighth as Chase Stanley joins the bench.
Tolman believes the new-look Bulldogs will do well against the Dragons, but emphasised the need for everyone to lift.
"We've got a lot of senior guys out this week so everyone else needs to stand up. We know what's at stake," Tolman said.
"In saying that we've got some guys coming in – Tim Browne has been there for the last two seasons and he'll come in and do a good job for us.
"We're down on troops but I'd like to think this club when tough times happen they always stand up so it will be no different this week. It's up to us players to go out there and make sure we perform. I've got 100 per cent confidence in the team."
With the loss of Klemmer, Graham, Kasiano, Morris and Lafai, the Bulldogs have lost a group of players who produced a combined 684 metres against the Rabbitohs – a whopping 35 per cent's worth of the team's total running metres.
Yet Tolman backed the new-look pack to get the job done against the Dragons.
"These new faces have been here the whole off-season and some of them have been here for the last couple of years so they'll know what they'll be doing," Tolman said.
"The guys coming in I know they're going to do a good job and we're coming up against a Dragons team who have a bit of confidence at the moment and we need to make sure we're doing a good job against them."
Meanwhile, while the disappointment of losing to the Rabbitohs in controversial circumstances still lingers, Bulldogs centre Josh Morris said the team can take plenty of positives from the game when they come up against his former club – who are shooting for four wins on the trot.
"It hurt [losing]. But at the same time we knew that we played really well and that's something we haven't done in the past four weeks before that," Morris said.
"We hadn't played an entire 80 minutes before last week – we had been good in patches instead – but we thought throughout the whole Rabbitohs game we played really well.
"We're going to use that as a benchmark in terms of moving forward now and trying to play like that each week."