Abbey has inside running to be Dogs No.1

Kiwi youngster Brad Abbey could start the NRL season as Canterbury custodian after being chosen to fill the fullback spot in the Bulldogs’ final trial match against Melbourne.

With Brett Morris and Will Hopoate both sidelined with knee injuries, Warriors junior Abbey will play at the back against Storm at Belmore Sportsground on Saturday.

Abbey, 19, moved from Auckland to Belmore on a three-year-deal this season after any chance of promotion at the Warriors was blocked by the signing of Roger Tuivsasa-Sheck.

Hopoate was injured in last week’s trial against Penrith and is a 50/50 proposition for the Dogs’ round one assignment against Manly at Brookvale on Friday March 4.

Morris is unlikely to feature over the first month of the premiership.

A number of Dogs stars played in last week’s 24-20 trial loss to Penrith, but coach Des Hasler has selected Chase Stanley, Josh Reynolds, Josh Morris and David Klemmer to play their first games of the year against Melbourne.

Captain James Graham will don the Dogs colours for the first time this year after playing in last week’s All Stars fixture.

“I was pleased with what I saw last week but we’ll get to have a better look at the guys this week,” Hasler said.

“I know guys like James, Josh, Josh and David are keen to get out there and play with the group for the first time this season.”

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