The Bulldogs will be out to bounce back in round 10 against the Wests Tigers in a Sunday afternoon classic at ANZ Stadium.
Both teams have had an up and down start to their 2016 campaign and bulldogs.com.au takes a look at the five questions facing both sides.
Can the Tigers replace Tedesco?
The Wests Tigers will head into round 10 minus star fullback James Tedesco. Tedesco will spend between four and six weeks on the sideline after sustaining a fracture of his left shoulder blade during the Tigers win over the Rabbitohs in round nine. The Origin hopeful has made a blistering start to 2016 with nine tries, 57 tackles breaks, seven line breaks, nine line break assists, seven try assists and three try saves. Tedesco’s influence on the Tigers will leave a big hole and the question is – do they have a replacement capable of delivering what Tedesco does?
Who will recover from the rep weekend?
The Bulldogs and Tigers both had a large input into the rep games over the weekend with a total of 25 players representing both clubs across all three days. The Bulldogs had a higher input of first grade talent in the #RoosKiwis and #PacificTest matches, while the Tigers dominated the representation in the #CityCountry match on Sunday with four players. With no Bulldogs players taking to the field on Sunday, will the extra day benefit the blue and white this weekend?
How big of a loss is Hopoate?
The Bulldogs enter the next three weeks without Will Hopoate due to his decision not to play on Sundays because of his commitment to his faith. It’s a big blow for the Bulldogs with speedster Brett Morris still sidelined with an injury and Hopoate being one of the Bulldogs best so far in 2016. With five players’ player awards, 27 tackles breaks, six tries, six try saves, an average of 17 runs for 143 metres per game and only two errors for the season, will Hopoate’s absence will be felt?
Will the Tigers big guns return?
The Wests Tigers will head into the round 10 fixture with the Bulldogs looking to make it back to back wins in 2016 for the second time and have a host of stars lining up to return from injury and make their club debuts. Aaron Woods, Tim Grant, Mitchell Moses and Matt Ballin are all chances to return from injury for the Sunday afternoon clash, while new signing Elijah Taylor, fresh off his outstanding performance in the NSW Residents on the weekend, will be pushing for selection in the Tigers 17 on Sunday.
Can the Bulldogs lift for James Graham?
Bulldogs skipper James Graham this week celebrates his 100th NRL match and after an up and down start to the year for the Bulldogs, celebrating player milestones and giving that extra effort for your mate has already been evident in 2016. The skipper gives his all every week and typifies the Bulldogs policy of hard work. With a week to freshen up, will Graham’s teammates inspire the skipper and record a memorable win in a significant game for the Englishman.