Brett Morris’ stunning debut season at fullback last year has him ready for his return to the custodian role in place of Will Hopoate, according to Canterbury coach Des Hasler.
Morris will take over the Bulldogs’ fullback role for Sunday’s NRL elimination final against Penrith from Hopoate, who will sit out the match due to his religious beliefs.
NSW and Australian representative Morris starred at the back for the Bulldogs last year in his move from St George Illawarra. However he hasn’t played in the No.1 jersey since.
He missed more than half of this season due to a knee injury, which allowed Hopoate to move to fullback after his off season shift from Parramatta.
“Brett will slot in there quite easily,” Hasler said at Belmore Sports Ground on Friday.
“He is an experienced campaigner. He is no stranger to the position, he has played quite a few games there so it won’t be foreign territory to him.”
Morris played all of his 16 games for Canterbury at fullback last year, scoring nine tries.
He has scored 10 tries in 10 games this year on the wing.
Hasler said Hopoate’s withdrawal wasn’t a distraction for his side.
“He missed games earlier in the year. It is fine,” Hasler said.
Morris was injured when Hopoate missed three Sunday fixtures earlier this season.
Sam Perrett deputised for Hopoate then.
Canterbury will welcome the NRL’s best interchange player Sam Kasiano back from suspension for the Allianz Stadium clash with Penrith. Kasiano copped a two-match ban for making dangerous contact with Brisbane skipper Corey Parker.
“He has certainly freshened up and he is looking forward to the game,” Hasler said at Belmore Sports Ground on Friday.
“It was something that we could have taken to the judiciary, but with the judiciary these days you just don’t know what can happen, let’s be honest nobody knows.”
Hasler said he didn’t believe Kasiano owed his teammates after he lashed out with his boot at Brisbane skipper Corey Parker, which earned him the two match ban.”
“I don’t think that is the case,” Hasler said.
Tyrone Phillips moves on the wing to accommodate the omission of Hopoate.
Hasler said Kiwi international Perrett remained troubled by a neck injury.
“We are still working away at that ,we will assess it day by day but he is still a week away,” Hasler said.