Canterbury captain Josh Jackson said new recruit Dylan Napa showed plenty of positive signs despite limited playing time in Saturday night's 28-22 trial loss to Canberra in Bega.
After an off-season plagued with controversy, Napa wasted little time ripping into the Raiders' pack with plenty of aggression as he led from the front.
"That's why we brought him, he's pretty well renowned for being aggressive and he got us moving forward in the game," Jackson said.
Napa ended his first stint with ice on his left knee shortly before half-time, but Jackson said it was merely precautionary.
"I think that was the plan all along, play him (Napa) for about the first 25 to 30 minutes and then rest them. We don't want to risk too many injuries," Jackson said.
"He was fantastic for us today and he's been looking forward to get onto the field and playing some footy finally.
"It's good he put in a good performance and he can move on."
Canterbury's pups got a chance to press their claims for a bigger role in 2019, with 30 players brought to the South Coast for the trial.
Jack Cogger was given an early chance to put pressure on the existing halves, starting at halfback in place of Lachlan Lewis.
Jackson said giving everybody the playing time they wanted was the toughest task of the trial, but the time in front of coach Dean Pay will pay dividends throughout the season as competition for spots heats up.
"It was a good hit-out, obviously it was going to be a bit difficult we brought a pretty big squad down and there was a fair few rotations, but all in all, I'm pretty happy with the hit out," he said.
Despite the loss there were plenty of positive signs for the Bulldogs ahead of round one.
The team's overall line speed and discipline in defence on their try-line will give Pay reason to feel confident of finishing higher than last season's 12th.