You would have understood if Kieran Foran played in a dinner suit upon his return from a five-match injury absence.

But that was never an option for the wholehearted Bulldogs five-eighth as he inspired a 14-6 upset over the Rabbitohs on Saturday night with two smart try assists for back-rower Corey Harawira-Naera.

Foran, who has recently been dogged by hamstring and calf issues, fearlessly ran to the line before passing, kicking or taking on the defence in a trademark display at ANZ Stadium.

The 29-year-old immediately shook his head and grinned when asked if he considered toning down the kamikaze approach to preserve his body.

"Nah. I think that's just the way that I like to play. I've never really had any sort of thought about whether I'm going to get whacked or not," Foran told NRL.com.

"I just want to help put the blokes around me in gaps. If that means I've got to cop a whack, I'll cop a whack. But we've got some great hole runners in this side so it makes my job a bit easier."

Match: Rabbitohs v Bulldogs

Round 22 -

Full Time
Rabbitohs

Home Team

Rabbitohs

Scored 6 points
Bulldogs

Away Team

Bulldogs

Scored 14 points

Venue: ANZ Stadium, Sydney

Match broadcasters:

  • Foxtel
  • Nine Network
  • LIVE PASS

It's been a tough period for Foran, who was desperate to put together a full campaign for Canterbury-Bankstown after sitting out a large chunk of 2018 with a toe problem.

Instead the setbacks have kept coming – a syndesmosis injury in round three sidelined the former Sea Eagle for five games, his comeback lasting six weeks before his hamstring and then calf betrayed him.

Through the personal pain, he's found solace in the Bulldogs' revival, the side having now won three consecutive matches and five from their past seven.

"For myself, it's been really difficult. It's been another injury-ravaged year – I missed half the season last year, this year I've had another couple [of] long lay-offs with injuries," he said.

"It gets frustrating but the positive thing has been watching the boys from afar and watching how well they've been going. I was fortunate enough to come into the side tonight and do my job."

Most vexing about Foran's unfortunate injury run is the fact he's been in fine form when fit.

"It's been really untimely. I just haven't been able to string consistent blocks together. They've all been different injuries, too, which is the hard thing. It's not like they're predictable.

"It's been frustrating but I'm thinking positively. Hopefully I can finish these last three games off strongly and we can get some wins."

As impressive as the Bulldogs were without Foran, coach Dean Pay said the improvement with the marquee man on the field is obvious.

"I think everyone can see what he brings. He's a quality player," Pay said.

"With a bit of luck, if he can stay fit and stay healthy, he's still the old Kieran Foran, that's for sure. I think he can even get better.

"As a team, that's the best we've played. Foz just went out and did his job tonight and did it really well. But that's what we expect from him … it's really pleasing for him."

Foran's presence forced Jack Cogger to sit on the bench for the whole 80 minutes, with Lachlan Lewis winning the halfback spot.

That was a change from earlier in the season when Cogger was chosen alongside Foran and Lewis played reserve grade.

To Foran, it doesn't matter which developing playmaker he's paired with.

Canterbury Bulldogs pivot Kieran Foran.
Canterbury Bulldogs pivot Kieran Foran. ©Robb Cox/NRL Photos

"Certainly no preference from my end. I've got an enormous rap on both blokes. They'll keep getting better and better the more games we play and we need them to," Foran said.  

While Foran's performance earned the most plaudits, Pay praised his forward pack who dominated their South Sydney counterparts.

"I thought Dylan [Napa] and Aiden Tolman and Adam Elliott started pretty well and then we've got a rotation of young guys that came off the bench," Pay said.

"Chris Smith played really well and Renouf Toomaga is getting better each week."