Des Hasler is happy with how Canterbury are building toward the finals ahead of what he expects to be a “State of Origin-style” clash against Brisbane at Suncorp Stadium on Thursday.
The Bulldogs face both last season’s grand finalists, Brisbane then North Queensland, back-to-back in matches that will significantly shape their premiership prospects.
Many have questioned the Dogs’ status as title contenders as they’ve quietly slipped into the top four, especially in the wake of their 36-0 hammering by the Cowboys in Townsville a month ago.
But they can clinch a top-four finish with wins in two of their last three games and coach Hasler is confident they can get them.
Greg Eastwood returns from a hamstring injury to further boost the Dogs for their clash with Brisbane.
“We are just about back to full strength and we are starting to go ok,” Hasler said.
“Over the last month we haven’t managed our time with the ball well enough and we need to get better with possession.
“But we are still managing to score enough points.
“Apart from the Cowboys game, which was a bit of an anomaly for us, I think we have come up with some decent performances. But we still have three weeks to go.”
Hasler said he was happy for critics to take potshots at the Bulldogs about “winning ugly” and inconsistent performances.
“It doesn’t really matter. That is what is so good about his game. People can say what they want and we just get on with what we do,” he said.
“People are going to comment and we will just get on with it. It is what happens on the field that matters.”
The Bulldogs have won seven of their last eight games and after a midseason slump the Broncos have at last found some form with back-to-back wins.
“We are expecting a State of Origin type atmosphere, it should be a great game,” Hasler said.
“I think they will get 50,000 there and those sort of environments tend to bring the best out of players and we are looking forward to it.”