Boom NRL youngster Brad Abbey’s gamble to shun the Warriors for Canterbury could be about to pay off.
Abbey shapes as a bolter for the Bulldogs’ round one side to face Manly on Friday after Brett Morris underwent a second round of knee surgery on Monday and faces four to six weeks on the sideline.
The 19-year-old speedster opted for the Bulldogs ahead of the Warriors, who signed New Zealand Test custodian and superstar Roger Tuivasa-Sheck – a move that would have limited his opportunities across the Tasman.
The Bulldogs fended off interest from Melbourne when they signed Abbey to a three-year deal and he has rocketed into calculations for a first-grade spot during his first pre-season with the club.
He pushed his case during the Auckland Nines and played at fullback during their final trial against Melbourne.
Star recruit Will Hopoate is likely to wear the No.1 in Morris’ absence but it will open up a backline vacancy for Abbey.
The Kiwi youngster now looks set for a berth in the season opener at Brookvale Oval, which gives him a golden chance to establish himself in first grade while Morris recovers.
Morris had a cleanout on his knee after last season but suffered a series of setbacks, prompting him to go under the knife again.
Morris’ brother and teammate Josh said his sibling had been frustrated by the setback and inability to recover in time for the new season.
“There’s just been some minor setbacks which have prolonged it,” Josh said on Monday.
“He was just getting a bit of pain and the scans weren’t matching up so the best option was to go in and have a look at what the problem is.
“Hopefully it’s a little issue and he can be back sooner rather than later.”
It won’t be known how long Morris will spend on the sideline until he begins his rehabilitation but is expected to miss at least the first month.
“He’d rather be preparing for round one but his knee hadn’t been quite right so they’ll go in for a look to see what’s wrong and hopefully best case scenario he’ll be back sooner rather than later,” Josh said.