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Frawley content on Dogs' bench for now

Words: Chris Kennedy, National Correspondent‌‌, ‌‌‌NRL.com

Frawley,M 1741431

Bulldogs playmaker Matt Frawley says while he'd love to be starting for Canterbury, he's simply trying to nail his role on the bench behind Josh Reynolds, Moses Mbye and Michael Lichaa for now.

The 22-year-old was a standout in his first two games to help turn the Bulldogs' form around and he now has three straight wins to start his career following another solid hit-out against Souths on Good Friday, in which Reynolds starred on the way to a 24-9 win.

Frawley's debut came with Mbye suspended and he earned big minutes in his second game after fullback Brad Abbey was concussed in the first half.

His third game saw him play 55 minutes off the bench at the expense of Lichaa, who was replaced after 25 minutes and did not get called back on with Mbye moving to dummy half.

Despite his composed kicking game proving valuable as he proved a perfect foil for close mate Reynolds in the halves, Frawley says he isn't looking to bump any of the three senior playmakers from the starting side.

"My biggest goal is just to cement the bench spot," Frawley said after the game.

"I'd love to start but Moses is a great player, we've got Lich there doing and awesome job and you saw how good Josh played [against Souths].

"I think we've got a good balance there at the moment and I think it's going to keep it that way. As long as I'm doing my job on the bench I'm happy."

Coach Des Hasler twice deflected questions in the post-match press conference around whether Frawley's emergence could potentially mean the off-contract Lichaa could be bumped out of the side, but did praise the influence of Frawley.

"It just gives us a little bit more versatility [having Frawley on the bench]," Hasler said.

"Particularly with injury but also the HIA with the head rule now, last year we were having to shuffle players around and it was usually poor old 'Jacko' (Josh Jackson) that was being moved to centre or out to wing.

"It just gives us a bit more flexibility where we need to move players. Moses can play centre, he can play half, he played hooker today. Last week we had a head injury, Brad Abbey went off; it's great when you can move a player like 'BMoz' (Brett Morris) back to fullback.

"It gives us a bit more strike, gives us a better balance. If we get an injury later in the game Lichaa can always come back on, Mo can move somewhere else and Lichaa can even play lock if he has to. It's just a better balance."

‌Despite Frawley this week being named in the reserves list on Tuesday, leading fans to wonder if he had been demoted, Frawley said he knew from the start he'd be in the game day 17 – just not what his exact role would be.

"I knew I was going to be playing; I wasn't too sure when I was going to come into the game," Frawley said.

"It was sort of [a case of] see how the game's going and whether there was an injury early on like there was last week. Dessie put me on in the first half which I was happy about and got some good minutes."

Frawley's kicking game has been invaluable to the Dogs in the three games he's played and he said it's a skill he spends plenty of time focusing on.

"That's one of my areas of the game I try to bring, I've got to keep doing that. There were a couple of kicks tonight I'd like to have back but as a whole I think it was OK," he said.

"I've just got to keep getting them into the corners. We've got such a good forward pack that rolls forward all day and put us in good spots to kick so hopefully we can keep doing that."

With winger Marcelo Montoya spilling a Frawley bomb in the Souths in-goal the number of try assists Frawley has lost in three games through errors or offside penalties against his teammates has risen to four, but on current evidence he will get plenty before the season is out.

"I know, I've been robbed of a couple!" Frawley laughed.

"Obviously it would be nice to have them but I can't really worry about that. As long as I put them in the right spot I'm doing my job so hopefully the boys can execute a bit better. 

"'Marcy' (Montoya) caught that second one (the bomb in the 73rd minute leading to the Josh Morris try), it probably wasn't the greatest kick but he turned it into a try."

This article first appeared on NRL.com