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Kieran Foran freely accepts he is facing an eye-watering six-figure pay cut to keep his career alive beyond 2020.

But having returned to the paddock for the first time in seven months – after at one point fearing yet another shoulder reconstruction had cruelled his entire season – the Bulldogs veteran is determined to keep himself in the shop window as long as possible.

Foran provided a steady hand in his 200th NRL outing on Monday as Canterbury ground out a 22-2 win over the hapless Dragons.

Signed on a three-year Bulldogs deal at the end of 2017 that had him earning around $1 million this year, Foran and the club have been frustrated by a luckless run of injuries throughout his time at Belmore.

As a result of playing 53 of a possible 100 games since the start of 2016, the off-contract Kiwi international concedes his next deal will be nowhere near that figure.

Get Caught Up: Round 4

But at 29 and "excited like a little kid again to do what I love", his pay packet comes second to keeping Canterbury and his career tracking in the right direction.

"There's no sugarcoating it, I'm not going to be demanding the sort of money that I've been on, there's no denying that," Foran told

"For me, it's about proving to myself and the club that I can get on the field each and every week and playing at a high level. If I do that then I'm sure the stuff off-the-field sorts itself out.

Pay: I feel for McGregor

"It's out of my control the decisions that get made. But what I can control is making sure my body is ready to go each and every week. That's what I'll make sure I'm doing.

"I've missed a lot of footy. I've got to play well every week to continue my career past this year.

"I want to do that, and with a bit of luck on the injury front, I can string some games together.

"Today was fantastic. I was so excited to get back … There's been tough times in between games but I was really keen to get myself physically strong to get back out doing what I love."

Foran showed last year he still has the class to hold his own at NRL level, earning his first New Zealand Test jersey in two years after an impressive finish to 2019.

The NRL's COVID-19 shutdown provided a silver lining to the heartbreaking dislocated shoulder he suffered in that Test, with Foran missing just three games in the end as he pushed his body through a gruelling rehab regime.

Keeping himself on the paddock will dictate whether Canterbury look to talk contracts again as the season wears on.

But with Lachlan Lewis warming to his task against St George Illawarra, Foran sees the young half as key to the club's rebuilding process.

"He's a great player, Lachie. I thought his kicking game tonight was exceptional and we need that from him," Foran said.

Bulldogs: Round 4

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"I thought he controlled the game with that and then in the second half he started to take them on.

"I've got enormous wraps on him as a young bloke for this club, the better he performs, the better we go."

Foran came through the Dragons clash unscathed with Dean Pay giving him a five-minute early mark with an eye to Sunday's clash with the Roosters.

"He made 25 tackles and did his job there, he played really well," Pay said.

"He gives everyone a lift in the place, he's helping our young guys along, he did his job really well tonight."

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