Fittest we have ever been: Bulldogs
Veteran Bulldogs duo Josh Morris and Sam Perrett believe the club is as fit as they have ever been, backing their big men to ignore the stresses of the NRL's newest initiatives.
With a shot clock set to dictate the time it takes for goal line dropouts and scrums, as well as interchanges being cut from 10 to eight, many pundits have predicted the Bulldogs to suffer most considering the size of their forward pack.
"I definitely think we’ve done the work. I feel like we’re the fittest we have been and the blokes that most people have concerns about, I don’t have any concerns about so I’m confident," Morris said.
"We've certainly done a lot of running but probably with less recovery to try and work that shot clock type of environment where you've only got that 30 or 40 seconds to have a break.
"We've been doing fitness drills and then having that short breaks and then going straight back into them. We’re doing that kind of stuff while you’re fatigued."
Perrett called it a "natural assumption" that people would think big boppers like Sam Kasiano, Greg Eastwood and David Klemmer would struggle under such conditions.
"The big boys have been doing really well though. I was running next to Sammy [Kasiano] actually in one of the fitness sessions the other day and I was struggling to keep up with him," Perrett said.
"When change is forced upon you, you might see the best of a couple of the bigger boys. They don't let much get past them.
"Because everyone is under the same conditions too I'm going to back our boys and their drive, their energy and the condition they are in at the moment. I'm going to back that we're really going to shake up the competition and really put our stamp on things."
Much like how the Bulldogs will embrace the NRL's new initiatives Perrett is ready for the unknown this weekend with the Sea Eagles set to boast an entirely new look team.
"After what [Manly's] been through, I'm sure they'll be really excited to go this year. I have no doubt we're going to be up against a high-energy, exciting young side," Perrett said.
"There are some gun players there and obviously with a new coaching staff there's going to be a bit of a surprise. I'm not quite sure what we're going to get and in that sense it's going to be a good challenge."
One player who won't be there at Brookvale Oval on Friday night will be Brett Morris, with his brother noting he underwent a knee cleanout on Monday.
"We’re hoping it is good news. He was just getting a bit of pain and the MRI that he got wasn’t showing that so it was best to go for a look. Hopefully it’s just a minor thing that’s giving him some grief," Morris said.
"Hopefully it's not major for Brett’s sake because I know he’s certainly frustrated and wants to be out there running around with the boys."