A reduction in interchange cards hasn’t reduced Canterbury’s grunt, but that won’t stop teams attacking them up the middle.
That’s the belief of Parramatta coach Brad Arthur, who still has every intention of going right through the guts of the Bulldogs’ forward pack in Friday night’s NRL clash at ANZ Stadium.
Des Hasler’s big men have allayed any concerns about the introduction of the eight-interchange era with an impressive start to the season, showing off their fitness and power in back-to-back wins.
However the Eels, coming off the back of their own shock victory over reigning premiers North Queensland, are confident of turning the Bulldogs’ strength into their weakness.
“The game is definitely faster and with interchange, fatigue is setting in and the opportunities to play through the middle third of the field have become greater,” Arthur said on Thursday.
“Especially when teams are still trying to find their match fitness. We’re only into round three and trial matches, no one plays a full 80 minutes.
“Especially the big boys – they’re still getting used to their time and one less interchange in the first half.”
The Bulldogs will be buoyed by the inclusion of NSW State of Origin prop David Klemmer, who overcame a contrary conduct charge at the NRL judiciary on Wednesday night, for the Eels clash.
Arthur chose not to comment on the controversial decision of the match review panel, but instead warned his team about the pitfalls of flouting the rules.
“Our discipline wasn’t great last year and we’ve had a really big focus on us. The rules are what the rules are and we’re just concentrating on making sure that we do is the right thing,” he said.
“A lot of its unintentional in the game. But they’re the rules. We’ve got to make sure that we stick by the rules and if we don’t, there’ll be consequences.”