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After keeping a strong Melbourne side to zero in their final trial, Canterbury's defence looks to be off to a strong start and their new-look attacking structures will come later, according to centre Josh Morris.

The loss of organising halfback Trent Hodkinson was always going to present a challenge despite the undoubted talents of his full-time replacement Moses Mbye.

Although the Bulldogs did more than enough to dispose of an underwhelming Storm side 20-0, Morris hinted the side hadn't looked to display its full wares in attack just yet – especially with first and second choice fullbacks Brett Morris and Will Hopoate unavailable for that game.

"I thought it was a really good hit-out. The most pleasing thing is we kept them to zero," Josh Morris told

"I know they didn't have Billy [Salter] in their side and he adds a fair bit but I thought our foundation in our defence was really good and I think we can take some confidence out of that game into the first round.

"We probably still have a little bit to work on in our attack – being a trial Dessie [Hasler] doesn't like to give too much away! We'll work on that and take a bit of confidence going into Round 1."

Despite the loss of Hodkinson Morris said the club still had plenty of depth in its playmaking stocks. 

"There's a lot of spots up for grabs, not just in the outside backs but in the halves as well. While 'Mo' [Mbye] didn't get a chance to play that last trial [due to a minor glute strain] I think they've worked really well in the pre-season thus far and your first indication's going to be in Round 1 to see how they go."

While the Canterbury forward pack is as stacked as ever, Morris said some of the young players pushing for spots in the outside backs were also exciting.

"'Ty' [Tyron Phillips] was probably our best player in the Nines, he's one that's pushing for a spot. Brad Abbey I watched a fair bit of in the under-20s and he was a really good player in that competition. He played really well on the weekend I thought. These blokes will get an opportunity throughout the year and it's what they make of it," Morris said.

Lock Greg Eastwood joked that the main difficulty caused by Hodkinson's departure would be at the goal kicking tee.

"It's good, but I think we're still trying to find a goal-kicker so he'll be missed there!" Eastwood said.

"Reynolds and Moses have been working hard on their kicking game and working hard with the team so we'll worry about our defence and hopefully the attack will come on the back of that."

This article first appeared on

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Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs respect and honour the Darug and Eora nations, who are the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.