Canterbury skipper James Graham has declared Tony Williams back to his barnstorming best.
Off contract at the end of the NRL season, Williams’ future remains the source of much speculation.
However Bulldogs teammates are certain a “highly motivated” Williams can play a big role in their push for the finals following his man-of-the-match effort against St George Illawarra after a month in reserve grade.
The former Australian and NSW forward, affectionately known as T-Rex, had been dumped after a lacklustre start to the season but returned to his destructive ways in that last-start Bulldogs win two weeks ago.
“He was fantastic against St George. The way he came off the bench and the way carried the ball he really rolled back the years and got back to his best,” Graham said on Tuesday.
“Performances like that will have him in good stead to be playing week in week out.
“If he continues to play like that we are a better side with him in the team.
“He was very highly motivated to come back and show the boys what we have been missing.”
Dogs hooker Michael Lichaa said Williams used his sacking as inspiration to re-discover his form.
“It was hard to see him out of the team. He was pretty upset with it all so it was awesome to have him back,” Lichaa said.
“He changed the whole game for us and hopefully if he can play like that every week he will be one of the best forwards in the game and will lift our team and get us to where we want to be.
“He is a confident bloke and he probably wasn’t playing his best footy before he was dropped but he came back and proved he can still do it.”
If Williams can hold his form, he and Sam Kasiano will spearhead arguably the best bench in the NRL.
“If he keeps playing like that he will be crucial for us,” Kasiano said.
“It is a big plus for us having a big body like him coming off the bench.”
The Bulldogs next play Brisbane at ANZ Stadium on Saturday night.