Red-hot Brett Morris will be out to continue his stellar return to the NRL when Canterbury tackle the toughest away fixture in the competition on Thursday.
The Bulldogs head to Townsville to take on premiers North Queensland – a team which hasn’t lost at home since a 31-18 loss to South Sydney in August last year.
In Morris however the Bulldogs boast one of the most in-form players in the game, with the former NSW State of Origin star scoring seven tries in three matches since his return from a knee injury.
Morris’ return has coincided with a run which has lifted the Bulldogs into the NRL top four, level on points with the third-placed Cowboys.
Bulldogs coach Des Hasler says no-one should be that surprised by how well the 29-year-old has returned to the game.
“Brett’s a seasoned professional. He’s worked really hard during his rehab status,” Hasler said.
The partnership with Brett’s twin brother Josh on the Bulldogs’ right wing will be crucial Hasler says if the Bulldogs are to come away with a fifth-straight win on Thursday.
“Given half a chance, they turn it into points,” Hasler said.
“That’s what you need and we’ll need that against the Cowboys, who defend particularly well on the edges.”
NSW duo David Klemmer and Josh Jackson come into the Bulldogs line-up in place of Asipeli Fine and Tim Browne, who will start from the interchange bench.
The Cowboys also welcome back their Origin contingent with Matt Scott, James Tamou, Johnathan Thurston, Justin O’Neill and Gavin Cooper all named by coach Paul Green.
Michael Morgan also returns from a knee injury, while suspended winger Kyle Feldt will be replaced by Javid Bowen.
Green said the Bulldogs have threats across the park but the Morris twins were clearly a concern given their recent form.
“The Morris boys are getting a good combo back. They’ve scored a few tries in recent weeks,” Green said.
“They’ll test all of us.”
COWBOYS v BULLDOGS – Key match stats
* Canterbury’s 21 wins from 33 matches against the Cowboys is their highest winning percentage against any team.
* The Bulldogs have won three of their past four in Townsville and 12 from 16 overall at the venue.
* Cowboys forward Jason Taumalolo has been a revelation this season, averaging 162 metres and 15 hit ups a game in 2016.