Canterbury coach Trent Barrett faces a selection dilemma for next weekend’s match against Sydney Roosters – pick the five players he says let the team down or stick with the rookies who debuted in the club’s biggest defeat since 1935.
Dylan Napa, Corey Waddell, Sione Katoa, Brandon Wakeham and Aaron Schoupp will return to training on Monday after spending two weeks in isolation following their visit to a Bondi hotel at the same time as a patron who tested positive to COVID-19.
However, Barrett made it clear after Saturday’s 66-0 loss that he angered by their actions and would only reluctantly recall them to the side if he had no other option.
With Jeremey Marshall-King, Jack Hetherington, Falakiko Manu and Chris Patolo on report and Matt Doorey needing to pass HIA protocols to play next Sunday, he may not have much choice as the Bulldogs are fast running out of players.
“I will make that decision next week, but it is disappointing,” Barrett said. “The whole club wasn’t happy about it.
“I haven’t even been able to see them face to face yet, so I am looking forward to seeing them on Monday.
“I hope they feel disappointed with themselves after having watched their team-mates go through that. It is not nice to do that.
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“I would love to be able to bring Bailey Biondi-Odo and Kiks [Manu] into a full-strength team where they are a chance of winning the game but that is not one they are going to want to remember.”
Canterbury had another eight players on the sideline, headed by former NSW Origin back Nick Cotric (toe) and forward Adam Elliott (cheekbone), who are both out with long-term injuries.
However, Barrett was disappointed with the defensive resolve of his team.
“I knew we were coming here facing an uphill battle, but I am very disappointed with the scoreline,” Barrett said.
“We looked flat from the start, particularly after the last month of footy we have had. I’d been pretty happy with the way we had been going but given the changes that we had I suppose particularly to our edges and we got found out tonight on our edges.
“Having so many changes was very disruptive defensively and it showed. We got found out on both sides of our edges and you can’t be passive against Manly.”
Barrett said the three Bulldogs debutants - Biondi-Odo, Patolo and Manu - had bright futures in the game but admitted they had been given a baptism of fire against the high-flying Sea Eagles, who have scored 50-plus points in their past three matches.
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“I take nothing away from Manly, they were very good and have probably been the form side of the comp over the last month and didn’t take the foot off today so they are going to be handful for the rest of the comp, for the rest of the season,” he said.
“We had a lot of blokes on report and the injuries that we have got certainly don’t help but we haven’t got anyone coming back next week yet so what we have got in there is what we have got.
“There are some young kids in there who it is certainly not ideal to throw them in there in these circumstances but we didn’t have a choice so we have got to keep them up and keep them going because they have some ability. They are going to be good players, but it is probably a few years away.”