Dogs halves face pressure from within

Bulldogs stand-in skipper Aiden Tolman says prodigious utility Moses Mbye is the only one putting pressure on the club's under-fire halves. 

NSW legend Andrew Johns blasted the incumbent Blues pairing of Josh Reynolds and Trent Hodkinson for their underwhelming start to the season. 

The pair responded with strong outings in the team's 28-16 over Manly last Friday night, however Tolman said it wasn't because of Johns' comments. 

"The only one that's putting pressure on them is Moses Mbye and he's been going great in the centres last week," Tolman said on Tuesday. 

"In terms of the way they're going, they played their best game on the weekend and they need to continue to do that. They were the Origin halves last year, they're the incumbents there. They've been playing some really good footy."

With Blues contender Mitchell Pearce and Queensland counterpart Johnathan Thurston in rare form, the Bulldogs veteran said it was unfair to compare them against the Bulldogs duo. 

"When you see other halves running around the competition and they're playing so well, then you forget our halves here don't necessarily have to do that," Tolman said. 

"They've just got to go out there and defend well, play their role, lead us around the park and their job's done. For me, I think they've been going good all year. If they play better, it's only better for us."

Teammate Josh Jackson echoed Tolman's comments, and believed that Reynolds found form last week after starting his first game since their season-opening loss to Penrith.  

"Starting the game, he kept his composure and did his thing. He is a great player and an organiser and competitor. He was really good for us the other night," Jackson said. 

"We are really happy with how they're going. They lead us around the park every week. Josh has come into the starting team and I thought he did a really good job. 

"Hokko does a really good job every week. He organises us around. He may have missed a couple of weeks there without Josh – although Moses did a really good job. Not having the same team each week may have brought a little bit of consistency."

Jackson, who will be in contention for a maiden Origin jumper after making his Test debut last year, also said the pair had been unfairly blamed for the team's inconsistent start to the year. 

"They have been in decent form and deserve the right [to be picked]. Because the team's been inconsistent, maybe it's been put down to them. You can't put it down to two players. Maybe they've copped the brunt of that. It's a little bit unfair," he said. 

The Bulldogs meet the Wests Tigers on Friday night, just one month after pipping them on a Mbye field goal in golden point. 

"We earned it because we got the win but in saying that we probably weren't the better team on the night," Tolman said. 

"Sometimes it doesn't always work out that way. It's just the way footy is. We were good enough to get the win. At times of the game that were crucial we came out on top. 

"We started off a bit slow against them – they got an early try – but we got ourselves back into the game. We're a quality team and know we can win all the games we go into. It's just whether we go out there and put forward the plan Des [Hasler] gives us."