Eastwood buoyed by Bulldogs depth
Veteran Bulldogs forward Greg Eastwood has credited the club's depth for keeping them in touch with the top eight in an otherwise difficult year for Des Hasler's men.
Having copped their fair share of injuries and suspensions this season, the Bulldogs have still managed to do enough in the past few rounds to be sitting at seventh after overcoming a stretch of four losses in five games.
With five players missing for the Dogs' clash with the Titans on Sunday due to Origin selection and James Graham set to miss the next four weeks with a hamstring injury, Eastwood remains unperturbed.
"The depth we have here is awesome. You look at our reserve grade team and there's a lot of NRL experience in it so the club is real strong at the moment and to bring guys in who have played in first grade before is really good," Eastwood said.
"It's hard when someone of James's experience and leadership doesn't play but in saying that all the boys who have come into the team this season have been doing their job. Losing all those guys after the Rabbitohs [game on Good Friday] a lot of young blokes have had to step up.
"I think they have done really well. I guess you saw a bit of glimpse of our full-strength team last Monday but because it is Origin time all the other boys are really pumped."
Asked who had impressed him the most this season, Eastwood had no qualms talking up most of the club's fringe first-graders.
With the likes of Danny Fualalo and Herman Ese'ese making their NRL debuts this season, Lloyd Perrett slowly building and Moses Mbye becoming a linchpin for the Bulldogs, Eastwood couldn't fault any of them.
"It's always good to have strong depth at the club because you never go through the whole year without injuries and losing people to representative football so to watch young guys come through and work real hard in the off-season and earn their chance is always good," Eastwood said.
"I think Lloyd has come in and done a really great job. We have seen some glimpses from Herman and Danny Fualalo so they are all playing a big part. [Moses too is] scary. He's still young and still learning. Every time he's been in the halves he has done well.
"Myself, I have massive confidence in [Moses]. The way he defends, and the way he takes on the line - they're promising signs. I'm sure like the rest of the boys, whoever we have besides us we have to trust them."
Bulldogs prop Antonio Kaufusi is probably one of the best men positioned to hand out compliments to the young pups.
The former Queensland and Australian representative Kaufusi, in his first season back in Australia since departing the Newcastle Knights in 2011, has been on the fringe of the NRL this season and has spent plenty of time with the club's rookies back in NSW Cup.
A veteran of 150 NRL games, Kaufusi said the enthusiasm the young players bring to the NRL team is an inspiration, even if they do mock him.
"You see guys like Lloyd, Danny and Herman and it's a great buzz, man. Especially for me being where I'm at in my career and for them coming through starting their career, and the enthusiasm they bring in," Kaufusi said.
"It's great for me. It gets me going as well even if they keep hammering me for being old but you get that with the young boys."
This article first appeared on NRL.com