Canterbury have been urged to fire up and rediscover their `Dogs of War’ mentality as they face an embarrassing NRL finals exit in the first week.
Des Hasler’s Dogs have been pitched into an elimination final against Penrith after a late-season lapse which saw them sink from third spot after 19 rounds to seventh.
They suffered their third loss on the trot against South Sydney in last week’s final round with the enduring image from the game being skipper James Graham delivering a pre-game rev up to his teammates in an effort to shake them from their doldrums.
Graham was breathing fire most of the game, and it boiled over when he lashed out with his leg at fellow Englishman Sam Burgess, an act for which he escaped suspension.
Prop Tim Browne, who also had a run in with Burgess as the sides walked off the field at halftime, said the side’s forwards needed to adopt Graham’s aggressive attitude heading into their finals match up with the Panthers.
“It’s good when he revs up like that. Everyone gets up on the back of it and grows another leg,” Browne said.
“He’s a passionate player, we all know that. We need it from him this week.”
The Bulldogs will be boosted by the return of Sam Kasiano, the side’s strike weapon all year, from a two-week suspension.
Browne warned that Kasiano, or any of the Bulldogs pack, wouldn’t be able to make an impact unless they addressed their handling woes which have characterised their recent rut.
Prop Aiden Tolman said Kasiano had been a big contributing factor behind what little success they had had over the last two months.
“He definitely adds some impact. He’s a great player and he’s been part of the reason we got a few wins the month before. He was coming on and creating some damage around the ruck,” Tolman said.