Des Hasler is banking on an old-fashioned road trip to help iron out the kinks in Canterbury’s early-season NRL form.
The Bulldogs have been one of the most inconsistent teams over the competition’s opening five rounds, mixing big wins with shock defeats.
Coach Hasler is hoping the Dogs can shake that off on the road over their next two games, starting with Monday’s trip to Melbourne followed by a clash in Wellington with the Warriors.
“It was probably something we identified early on,” Hasler said at Sydney airport on Sunday.
“After playing Melbourne on Monday night it makes it easier to fly into Wellington from Melbourne, instead of returning to Sydney and then flying out again.”
“That (Wellington) is our home game, so we have to grin and bear it.
As for old school bonding on the road Hasler said: “that’s just coffees these days”.
The Dogs are 3-2 heading into the final match of round six at AAMI Park, against a Melbourne outfit who are 4-1 and can join Brisbane at the top of the ladder with a win.
“They have been winning games but by their own admission they haven’t been going well,” Hasler said.
“The contest between these two sides is always tight and enthralling and I don’t expect it to be any different.
“For us, we just have to find that consistency.”
The Dogs forwards were outmuscled in their last-start loss to Canberra. Storm prop Jesse Bromwich is a key player Canterbury have to contain if they are to enjoy their fourth win of the year.
“Everyone at our club rates Jesse very highly,” Hasler said.
“And Cameron Smith has been good as always for them this year, very smooth, and he steers them around very well.”
Kerrod Holland comes into the Dogs side at centre for just his second NRL game after his match-winning effort on debut last month. He replaces Chase Stanley who has a hamstring injury.
Marika Koroibete returns from suspension on the wing for Melbourne.
Meanwhile, Dogs three-quarter Brett Morris is back training as he recovers from a knee injury. His timeframe for a return remains the second half of the season.
* Melbourne have lost five straight against the Bulldogs
* Overall they have won just 16 of 36 matches against the Bulldogs, their worst record against any current opponent
* Craig Bellamy has won just 10 of 25 matches (40%) against Des Hasler, his worst record against any coach faced more than five times.