Josh Morris in fit finals turnaround
This time last year a hobbled Josh Morris limped into the 2014 NRL finals after struggling to recover from a PCL injury suffered in last year's Origin series and says he's looking forward to playing this year's finals unencumbered.
Though his side swept from a seventh-place ladder finish into the grand final Morris seemed to be a yard of pace below his best as the tricky knee strain restricted his movement.
He said this week he feels his attacking game has benefited by a return to fitness in 2015.
"It was a different time last year struggling with that knee and knowing every game I wasn't quite right," Morris said.
"I was pretty much running out there defensively – just trying to do my part for the team.
"This year my attack has come a long way from where it was a year ago. I feel very dangerous with the ball in my hands so certainly it's a different mindset leading into this finals series."
With the finals just a week away though Morris said it was important not to fall into the trap of looking too far ahead or taking the Warriors lightly after their back-to-back 50-point thrashings.
The Warriors have been a shadow of their former selves since star half Shaun Johnson broke his ankle, going winless in seven matches and conceding a half-century of points against both the Tigers and Cowboys in the past fortnight.
"You can definitely fall into a trap thinking that way. They've still got big boys in their side and everyone knows how they like to offload the ball with second-phase football," Morris said of this Sunday's opponents.
"If we don't wrap up the ball they're going to be able to hurt us that way. You want to be winning and taking momentum into the finals."
With the finals just around the corner though Morris said it was an exciting time around Belmore, especially for younger players and even those, like his brother Brett, who would be experiencing their first finals campaign in blue and white.
"It's great to be still playing football at this time of year when it starts to warm up and the big crowds get out there," he said.
"It's a real focus and you can feel the atmosphere build throughout the week, especially here at Belmore. Fans get on the back of that.
"They'll be able to experience the week in Belmore and the build-up and hype around it," he said.
"It's certainly an eye-opening experience. Brett witnessed it last year – in the grand final week he came to Belmore to see all that.
"We need the new guys to keep stepping up."
Adding further incentive to this Sunday's game – Morris has crept up to 149 first grade games for the Bulldogs since departing the Dragons.
"It seems like it's flown by. I came here in 2009 and have some great memories here already. I got to represent NSW and Australia from this club, and played in two grand finals," Morris said.
"So [there have been] some great times. There wouldn't be any better way to celebrate than winning a premiership this year."