Canterbury captain James Graham has backed out-of-favour forward Tony Williams to work his way back into the Bulldogs’ NRL line-up despite his latest injury setback.
The off-contract Williams was dropped to reserve grade a fortnight ago when he strained his hamstring at training and has been ruled out for up to three weeks.
But with the Bulldogs losing key men Josh Jackson, David Klemmer and Josh Morris to State of Origin duties, Graham said there would’ve been ample opportunity for Williams to reclaim his spot in the 17.
“He would’ve been looking to play this week but it’s very disappointing for him,” Graham said on Tuesday.
The Bulldogs prop admitted the former Kangaroos representative had slowed off after a strong start to the year, and has now urged his teammate to battle back to the top grade.
“From what I have seen, he has been working hard, just going back to those fundamentals of working on his game and working on his conditioning,” Graham said.
“He’ll be fine. And when he gets an opportunity again I’m sure he’ll take it with both hands.”
Graham is confident the 27-year-old Williams, who is in the final year of a lucrative four-year contract after leaving Manly at the end of 2012, will bounce back into coach Des Hasler’s good books.
“Everyone knows what he’s capable of doing,” Graham said.
“At the start of the year, he showed a little bit of that form, but obviously he’d be very disappointed in getting dropped and getting injured again.
“I’m sure he’ll bounce back.”
Graham also revealed forgotten fullback Brett Morris is four weeks away from a return from a knee injury that has forced him to miss the entire season so far.
“He’s not actually with the team but you just see him with the physio doing some runs and he’s starting to look really good actually,” he said.
“It’s just one of those (injuries) that you’ve got to treat very delicately. It was quite a big injury. Hopefully he can be back soon for us.”
The fifth-placed Bulldogs face Canberra on Sunday.