The Bulldogs may have seven NRL players sidelined and are staring down the barrel of four consecutive losses, but prop James Graham has urged his team to “get on with it”.
The Bulldogs have lost their stranglehold on top of the NRL ladder with a string of losses which have been compounded by injuries and Origin representatives missing from their recent games.
Canterbury already had co-captain Frank Pritchard sidelined for the rest of the season with a pectoral injury, but their casualty ward has continued to grow with Josh Morris, Sam Perrett, Chase Stanley, Aiden Tolman, David Klemmer and Moses Mbye all injured recently.
Graham said the side remained confident of climbing back up the competition ladder.
“I don’t think worried is the right term,” Graham said. “We are disappointed but it’s a long season. Just like when we were coming first we weren’t talking about how good we were or celebrating. We are no different now losing three games. It’s not the end of the world. There’s a lot of rugby to be played and it’s still a long season.
“We try not to look for excuses. In all the three losses we looked at it, we review it and we gave ourselves opportunities to do better than we did. We came up against some good teams.”
With Trent Hodkinson and Josh Reynolds on Origin duty, the Bulldogs were forced to use a makeshift halves pairing of Michael Ennis and Josh Jackson in their last-start loss to Parramatta. Injuries forced Jackson to shift out of the halves mid-game, with Tony Williams feeding the scrum at times.
“Mick and Jacko did a good job and the other boys that played some unfamiliar roles,” Graham said. “As much as you don’t practice for it you have to get on with it.
“You’re not used to seeing certain players in certain positions in defence and attack so it is a little bit foreign to us. We are professional players. Most of us have been in similar situations before. You just have to get on it with it.”
The Bulldogs have lost to the Roosters and Parramatta without their Origin halves, while they were defeated by Manly with their representative players available. Points conceded by the Bulldogs have come in bursts in recent weeks. Graham said his side needs to stop back-to-back tries when Canterbury face the Raiders in Canberra on Friday night.
“We need to put in an 80 minute performance,” Graham said. “When we get our opportunities we have to take them. We have been guilty of not taking our opportunities when the game is in the balance.
“Instead of going a try up we concede a try. [Then there are] 12-point turnarounds in a couple of sets worth of play. We’re making it difficult for ourselves. That’s the key area we need to improve on.”
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