Buzzing Bulldogs to draw from recent experiences
The aftermath from the Bulldogs infamous clash with the Rabbitohs has seen injuries and suspensions run rampant through the club ever since, though prop Aiden Tolman remains hopeful they can draw positives from the recent chaos.
With their four New South Wales Origin representatives Josh Jackson, David Klemmer, Trent Hodkinson and Josh Morris unavailable and Brett Morris still injured – the Bulldogs will face a Raiders team unaffected by Origin.
Buoyed by the return of centre Tim Lafai this weekend, who was also injured against South Sydney, the Bulldogs are still faced with the prospect of missing Chase Stanley and captain James Graham who remain in doubt to face Canberra.
"Potentially we have six or seven blokes out this week so it is hard in that regard when you lose your best players to different reasons but that's footy," Tolman said.
"It's the nature of this time of the year and I definitely think we'll be better off for it. We all know what to expect and what teams are going to throw at us and at the end of the day we have a good team who can win any football match - we just have to go out and prove that."
Fellow prop Tim Browne believes with the Origin period starting, a greater onus now falls on him and other forwards such as Lloyd Perrett and Antonio Kaufusi.
"To a certain degree we're used to [missing players] but I like the challenge it means a bit more responsibility is on my shoulders and I'm looking forward to it," Browne said.
"It's a big opportunity for blokes like [Perrett and Kaufusi]. They are two quality players, and they both have a lot of experience especially Antonio who can bring a lot of leadership to a team which is what he does each week he plays."
As back-rower Frank Prichard kept the laughs coming for his team on Thursday by interrupting interviews while filming them on his iPad, it's sure-tell sign that team-morale is still high for Des Hasler's men.
"We're buzzing you know, unfortunately [the way we're going] is what it is, footy is the way footy is," Browne said.
"We're the ones who put ourselves into this situation and we're the only ones who can get ourselves out of it so there's no need to be down about it, we have to stay up and positive and hopefully the tides will turn."