Bulldogs to let Garvey off the leash
Canterbury players have full faith in new recruit Craig Garvey ahead of his club debut against the Penrith Panthers on Thursday night.
The former Dragon will replace regular No.9 Michael Lichaa, who suffered a knee injury against the Sea Eagles in Round 1and is awaiting scan results to determine his stint on the sidelines.
Garvey played 10 games for the Dragons from 2013-2015 and has impressed club officials over the pre-season.
Bulldogs skipper James Graham believes the 22-year-old dummy-half will be able to step in and do the job for his side, but didn't rule out players like Josh Reynolds, Moses Mbye, Josh Jackson or even Aiden Tolman filling in if needed.
"It's obviously really disappointing to lose Michael," the Englishman said.
"I've got a lot of faith in Craig Garvey moving forward and he was really probably a bit unlucky not to find himself on the bench last week. He's trained really well. His conditioning is top notch so I'm really pleased with how he's performed."
Graham concedes injuries are an unavoidable part of the game, and says teams needs to have plans in place should players become unavailable.
"When they're looking at the year ahead, I don't think anyone's naive enough to think that you're going to have your first choice 17 fit and on the pitch from rounds 1-26, so I'm sure this is something Des [Hasler] and everybody in the staff have pre-planned, and obviously Craig is part of the plan," he said.
Friday night's injury was a setback for Lichaa who was making his NRL return following an ankle injury suffered in Round 23 last year.
Back-rower Tony Williams feels for his teammate, but is excited to see Garvey get an opportunity similar to what Damien Cook had last year.
"It's very disappointing to lose him. He's probably frustrated that he got injured late last year and again early this year. I'm sure he'll come back stronger," Williams said.
"What we've seen he's played well. He's very explosive so that's a big plus for us forwards."
Lichaa's injury will be the second forced change to Canterbury's spine after fullback Brett Morris was ruled out for up to 16 weeks with a knee injury.
His replacement for Round 1, Will Hopoate, is confident Garvey will slot in fine when the Bulldogs travel to Pepper Stadium on Thursday.
"Garve's been training well over the pre-season. He got a gig with the Indigenous All Stars and he did great. I have no doubt he'll be a great addition to our side and I'm looking forward to playing alongside him," the former Eel said.
"He's dynamic. He's very quick out of dummy-half so that'll be a plus for us, especially off the back of our pack."