With Fullback Will Hopoate and Winger Kerrod Holland both out for the next 4-6 weeks due to injury, Coach Des Hasler will have the tough assignment of finding two replacements to fill the Bulldogs backline for their clash against the New Zealand Warriors on Friday night (8pm NZ time).
To add to their tough start the Bulldogs also have Chase Stanley on the sideline recovering from an ACL injury he sustained in 2016, as well as new recruit Richie Kennar, who picked up a foot injury in the opening round of the Intrust Super Premiership game against Mounties.
Brad Abbey leads a host of youngsters, along with Tyrone Phillips, Reimis Smith and Marcelo Montoya, who could come into the Dogs backline in place of Hopoate and Holland.
“We’ve got a young kid called Marcelo Montoya, alongside Reimis Smith and Tyrone Phillips. There’s a lot of depth there and if any of those guys get the opportunity, they’ll take it with both hands” said Bulldogs front-rower David Klemmer.
“Brad’s a top kid. He’s really grown since he arrived here and if he got his opportunity to play first grade he will take it with both hands.”
“These kids are eager to go. They trained really well over the off-season and they’re strong kids. They’ll be ready if they get the opportunity.”
Brad Abbey is yet to make his NRL debut but has been dominant within the Intrust Super Premiership side. He joined the club in 2016 from the Warriors and appeared in the club’s pre-season trials this year, as well as the Auckland Nines. He will be leading the charge to replace Will Hopoate at fullback.
Marcelo Montoya is also yet to make his NRL debut but was a member of the club’s 2016 NYC side scoring 19 tries. At the end of last year, he represented Fiji in their two-point win against Samoa, scoring a try. A local junior, Montoya will be an option to replace Holland on the wing.
Tyrone Phillips has played six NRL games for the boys in blue and white and successfully scored a hat-trick in 2016 against the Wests Tigers. He has the ability to play anywhere in the backline and after picking up a minor ankle injury in the Bulldogs pre-season trial, the 23-year old has fully recovered and comes into calculation for the wing spot.
Reimis Smith has played one NRL game for the Bulldogs after making his debut last year against the Canberra Raiders. He had an unforgettable debut after scoring two tries with his first NRL try being scored just six minutes into the game.
Tom Carr is yet to make his NRL debut and after joining the club from the St George Illawarra Dragons, the speedster who can find his way to the try-line, comes into calculation as a possible replacement for either Hopoate or Holland.