Bulldogs big men up for interchange challenge
When the NRL announced in July the introduction of a shot clock and the reduction of interchanges from 10 to eight in the name of game continuity, immediate fears were raised over the future of the big men in the game.
Doubts over one pack in particular sprung to mind, with Des Hasler's Bulldogs forwards chockfull of hulking figures.
David Klemmer and Sam Kasiano are two of the heaviest forwards in the game – both men carrying hefty 120 kilograms frames – while Tony Williams, Tim Browne and Greg Eastwood range between 112 to a sizeable 118 kilograms.
However such fears have been allayed by teammate Pat O'Hanlon.
Speaking from his own perspectives of pre-season training, the Mackay Brothers junior said the Bulldogs over the summer months have adjusted to suit the NRL's new conditions appropriately.
"We've been out there in the heat the whole pre-season flogging ourselves for long extended periods of time. If [the big boys are] able to take that into games and fall back on it when the going gets tough, I reckon they'll be all good," O'Hanlon told NRL.com.
"It does make it difficult, but I think we have adapted accordingly. I honestly think with the way the big boys have been training they'll handle it pretty well.
"A guy like Greg for example has been around for a long, long time so nothing changes for him, it's all about his muscle memory and his experience. He'll do that great job he does for the team every week.
"Then there are others like Sammy who is probably one of the most skilful big guys to ever play the game. From the training we have done they can take a lot of confidence in their physical ability."
Rounding out the Bulldogs forward pack are experienced trio Josh Jackson, skipper James Graham and Aiden Tolman as well as young guns Lloyd Perrett and Shaun Lane.
Ultimately, the writing is on the wall for O'Hanlon who is under no illusions that another NRL berth will come down to hard work.
It's been 16 months since the 24-year-old O'Hanlon played first grade football after suffering multiple horrific leg and ankle injuries in a 2014 elimination final against Melbourne.
Re-signed by coach Des Hasler in good faith for the 2016 season, O'Hanlon was realistic about his immediate future at the club.
"It makes it tough when you have so many good players around you that are competing for a spot in the first grade side, but I think it makes you a better player," O'Hanlon said.
"We all learn off one another and there are a lot of guys there who I take a lot from by training with them and how they handle themselves on game day and during games.
"If I were to leave the club having become a better player because of that then I can look back and say it was a pretty successful time.
"I would love to be here in the 17 on game day but it will take a lot of hard work and I'm looking forward to the challenge."