Mitchell Pearce is the player to spark a Sydney Roosters revival, Des Hasler believes.
The Roosters host Canterbury in round 17 of the NRL on Thursday night, in Pearce’s return from a calf injury.
The former representative playmaker has only played three matches this year due to injury and suspension, and Bulldogs coach Hasler believes Pearce can lead the second-last placed Roosters out of the doldrums.
“With Mitchell back, this is probably one of the strongest sides they have fielded this year, all bar Boyd Cordner, they are coming off the bye and they should be pretty fired up,” Hasler said at Belmore Sports Ground on Wednesday.
“I imagine Mitchell will want to play as much football as he can.
“Any rugby league player is at their happiest when they are playing footy and he will want to get out there and make every minute count.”
Pearce will join Jackson Hastings in the Roosters halves, with Ryan Matterson being pushed out to 18th man.
The Roosters also welcome back State Of Origin stars Blake Ferguson and Aidan Guerra, while winger Joseph Manu falls out of the Tricolours’ side.
Centre Josh Morris hasn’t been named for the Bulldogs as his recuperation from a groin injury suffered in NSW camp ahead of State of Origin II continues.
“He is 50/50 and he will go through a fitness test but he still has some lingering groin issues,” Hasler said.
Will Hopoate will stay at fullback for the Dogs, Hasler insisted, despite Brett Morris’ stellar return from a knee injury on the wing last week in which he scored three tries in his first game of the year.
“The (work) load is important there, the load is much greater at fullback and he is not ready for that,” Hasler said.
Greg Eastwood returns from a month on the sidelines due to injury in the Canterbury’s back-row.
The Bulldogs can force their way into the top four with a win at Allianz Stadium, if Brisbane lose to Melbourne at Suncorp Stadium on Friday night.