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Ladder reset would help winless Dogs but not fairest way: Jackson

The possibility of teams having their competition points wiped wouldn't have sat well with Josh Jackson despite his Bulldogs being 0-2 leading into a likely shortened season when the NRL resumes.

Last week the Project Apollo innovations committee briefly floated the idea of resetting the competition table before it was vetoed by the ARL Commission. If adopted, it would have helped the Bulldogs - one of six teams that went winless in the opening two rounds.

Jackson said the Bulldogs were using the break enforced by the coronavirus pandemic to reset but did not think the ladder should do likewise.

NRL.com calculated the likely cut-off points for teams to reach the finals in 2020 under a 15-round format, which includes the two rounds already played.

The Bulldogs are likely to need at eight wins in their final 13 games to qualify, if the competition is shortened to a 15-week season.

For Jackson, whose Bulldogs outfit hasn't reached the finals since 2016, he believes the decision to quash any plans around teams losing points was the correct call.

"Obviously for us it would be better if the points were restarted because we lost our first two games but I think the way they have done it is the fairest way," Jackson told NRL.com.

Last time they met: Rabbitohs v Bulldogs - Round 22, 2019

"The teams that have won their first two games … that's a pretty big advantage considering it's going to be a shortened season.

"For us we're on the other side of that but it is what it is, we put ourselves in that situation with our performances. It will be interesting to see how it works. I just want to get back and playing again.

"It gives us an opportunity to reset. All the discussions I've been a part of suggest we'll play each other once and then go into a finals series, which I think is good."

Veteran five-eighth Kieran Foran is hoping to make a return from shoulder surgery, potentially as early as the May 28 proposed season restart date, with the Kiwi international telling the Sydney Morning Herald before Easter he was nearing full fitness.

Jackson said Foran would be a timely boost for the squad, particularly given the shoulder injury to Joe Stimson and deregistration's of Corey Harawira-Naera and Jayden Okunbor's contracts last week.

"He'll be definitely back this year, it's just a matter of when," Jackson said of Foran.

"I've spoken to him a few times over the last couple of weeks and he's working so hard. He's got a positive mindset and is rehabbing really hard and the shoulder is coming along.

"He will play if we get back on the field, whether it be sooner rather than later I'm not sure."

Bulldogs forward Joe Stimson.
Bulldogs forward Joe Stimson. ©NRL Photos

Jackson said Stimson was in good spirits but faced a long stint on the sidelines.

The setback to the former Storm forward was compounded by the regulations in place which means non-essential surgery has been put on hold across Australia.

"It was unfortunate for him after he earned a spot in the side, I was devastated for him," he said.

"It happened at a hard time where if he did get in and have surgery when it happened he would've returned later in the season.

"But the way things are he couldn't get it done straight away. He's taken it like an absolute champion and is staying positive."

The Bulldogs have several options to replace Stimson and Harawira-Naera in the back row with Raymond Faitala-Mariner, Adam Elliott, Dean Britt and Chris Smith, who is also close to a comeback, capable of filling the void alongside Jackson.

Dean Pay's squad is scattered across Sydney and Australia as they train in isolation and Jackson believes players won't struggle with motivation.

"You've got players who have to do things by themselves, are training on their own without anyone telling them what to do and where they've got to be," Jackson said.

"It's harder to find the motivation to do those things but I don't see anyone in our squad that doesn't want to better themselves and have that motivation.

"There are a few guys who have returned to work which makes it hard for them to try and balance training with work commitments.

"You've got to have trust in people that they're doing the right thing."