Canterbury coach Des Hasler has been forced to make several late changes to his side to meet Brisbane after losing four players to injury.
Josh Morris, Greg Eastwood, Raymond Faitala-Mariner and Tim Browne all failed fitness tests and will miss Saturday’s round 16 NRL clash against the Broncos at ANZ Stadium.
However Hasler confirmed his NSW representative Josh Jackson and David Klemmer will back up after State of Origin II.
Eastwood wasn’t named in the Dogs side on Tuesday due to a knee injury. But Hasler had hoped the Kiwis international and Browne would be late inclusions.
Hasler said Brett Morris was still at least a week away from playing his first game of the NRL season as his recovery from a knee injury continues.
Morris was running at training but was yet to be involved in contact work.
“He is well, it has been a delicate process and we don’t want to rush him back,” Hasler said.
Klemmer and Jackson will be on deck as the Dogs bid for a top-four spot, although both Blues forwards may start off the bench in the match just three days after Origin II.
“Both players are interchange, potentially, and those two particular players don’t like being left out,” Hasler said.
Of greatest concern is the injury to centre Josh Morris who missed NSW’s loss in Origin II due to a groin complaint.
“It was bad enough for him to miss out on Origin and we have to monitor that,” Hasler said.
“That type of injury can be ongoing. We don’t want to inflame the situation.
Canterbury have battled with injuries to significant personnel for much of the season.
“At some stage, sometime, we might get our full team on the park,” Hasler said.
“But that is part of the landscape. It is something that is not uncommon. Clubs have been in worse positions and you combat that with your depth.”
Brisbane will be without the suspended Sam Thaiday. Jaydn S’ua or Tevita Pangai Jr will move from the bench into coach Wayne Bennett’s starting side for the Queensland representative.
Herman Ese’ese will join the visitors’ bench.
Bennett rested Corey Oates and Matt Gillett after Origin I for Brisbane’s loss to the Warriors in Auckland.
However Oates, Gillett and the club’s other available Maroons stars Darius Boyd, Corey Parker and Josh McGuire are all expected to play.
Two of the game’s modern-day coaching greats go head-to-head in Bennett’s 750th premiership match.
* The Bulldogs have won just 20 of 48 games against the Broncos, their worst record against any current opponent.
* After a strong start to their season in winning seven of their first eight games, the Broncos has slumped since then losing four of six.
* The Bulldogs have the best completion rate (78.8 per cent) of any team, while Brisbane average a try for every 7.6 tackles they have inside an opponent’s red zone, the best in the NRL.
* Bulldogs prop James Graham leads the NRL in total runs (274), while Broncos halfback Ben Hunt head up the premiership in try assists with 20 but has also missed the most tackles in 52.
Source: Fox Sports Stats