Canterbury players admit they’re missing the suspended Sam Kasiano, but believe his enforced two-week layoff could be a blessing in disguise.
Kasiano’s impact in attack was desperately needed in the Bulldogs’ loss to North Queensland last week, when they failed to capitalise on chances either side of halftime to take control of the match.
They’ll again be without him on Friday night against South Sydney as he continues to serve his ban for kicking Brisbane’s Corey Parker.
And while teammate Moses Mbye is one to admit he’d love him on the field to help his own game, the halfback is excited at the prospect of the 122kg forward looking to make up for lost time come the finals.
“He’ll be looking to wind up off the back fence,” Mbye said.
“We’ll be looking forward to getting him back.”
Kasiano has scored six tries this year and broken through 26 tackles.
However the second-phase play he has created in attack with his 33 offloads has also been crucial, often around either side of halftime.
“We probably missed that a bit on the weekend,” Mbye said.
“And we’re going to miss that again on the weekend with Sam’s suspension.
“He’s come on and really ignited our side and gets us going forward and creates a lot of opportunities for myself and for Josh (Reynolds).”
The Bulldogs’ loss to the Cowboys condemned them to a likely spot outside the top four unless there are upsets fall in their favour in the final round this weekend.
No team has won the title from below fourth since when Canterbury did it in 1995, and they believe there’s no reason they can’t do it again.
“There’s always a year for a record isn’t there?” Mbye said.
“I believe that if any team can win it from outside the four it can be our team if we put 80 minutes together.”
Canterbury put on a similar run in 2014 when they overcame the odds to reach the decider from seventh spot.
And with virtually the same forward pack, they are confident of making a similar impact in September.
“We’ve got the side here to do it,” prop David Klemmer said.