Tolman's 200th Overshadowed
With the pressure mounting on Canterbury Bulldogs coach Des Hasler making most of the headlines this week, prop-forward Aiden Tolman's personal milestone is set to be a distant second.
And that's probably just the way he likes it, too.
The quiet achiever will notch up his 200th Telstra Premiership appearance after 53 games with the Melbourne Storm at the start of his career before finding a home at Belmore in 2011.
"You never really think you're going to play first grade to be honest, let alone 200 games, so it's a huge honour," Tolman said on Tuesday.
"I suppose it's all the hard work that goes into it myself and with friends and family there in support it's icing on the cake the game on the weekend.
"While it's a nice accolade and milestone, we just need to win and that's at the forefront of my mind.
"Those little achievements are nice when they come around but we need to win more than ever and it's a big game for us."
The Bulldogs are ranked the third worst in the league in metres gained this season despite boasting one of the competition's biggest forward packs, and their lack of creativity around the ruck has seen only 10 line breaks in the first month of football.
After a diabolical performance against the Sea Eagles, Tolman said the onus of turning things around was now purely on the players and their attitude towards the jersey.
"The way we lost [hurt the most], they put 28 points on us in the first half and we had no answers for it," Tolman said.
"As a team that's not good enough and even though we've only had the one win, in those two losses prior we weren't too bad and far off the mark but to then put in a performance like that… that's not us and it's not the Bulldogs.
"In terms of our footy structures, things don't need to change.
"Our pack has been a bit hit and miss and most games are won in the forwards.
"The Roosters game I thought we were really good and against the Warriors, but for whatever reason on the weekend their middle and backs were rolling through us.
"Our middle didn't aim up but the best thing for us is we are back on Thursday night with another good team to play.
"The boys are willing and ready to turn it around."
As for the speculation surrounding Hasler's future at the Bulldogs, the 28-year-old said the coach had the full support of the squad.
"That's obviously the question that's always going to be asked but at the end of the day it was our performance that cost us the game," Tolman said.
"Des wasn't out there [on the field]… it's purely on the players and we didn't turn up.
"It's always hard because when we're in trouble he's always the one that cops it as well.
"We need to repay him back and go in and put on a good performance and turn the tables.
"Des has our full support as a playing group I hope he's the coach for the rest of the year."
Tolman is adamant the only way to make amends for the 38-point loss at Lottoland is to put on a show against the Broncos on Thursday night.
"It's only early in the season and we're not the only team to be 3-1 but we know we're better than where we are," he said.
"There's always pressure when you're at a club like this to perform and since I've been here despite being in every finals series and two grand finals for the last six years.
"If we put in a good performance on Thursday night, this stuff will go away.
"We get to test ourselves against the Broncos who have got a good forward pack right across the park with strike everywhere.
"We're lucky we've got a short turn around so haven't dwelled on it too much as we are playing in two days time so getting back out there quickly is the best thing for us."
Meanwhile, Bulldogs halfback Matt Frawley is expected to make his NRL debut against the Broncos with Moses Mbye out for one week through suspension.
The 22-year-old joined the Bulldogs in 2015 after coming up through the Raiders system and will link with Josh Reynolds in the halves.
"He's (Frawley) been here for two years and been playing really well," Tolman said.
"Whenever someone is on debut it's always a big game to lift for and the boys need to step up for him."