Canterbury coach Dean Pay won’t rush English recruit Luke Thompson into the team for next Sunday night’s clash with South Sydney after spending 14 days confined to a Melbourne hotel room.
Thompson was released from isolation on Sunday and drove from Melbourne to Sydney, but the England Test prop did not arrive in time to see his new team go down 34-6 to Wests Tigers at Bankwest Stadium.
The performance would have made for grim listening if Thompson tuned into the call on the car radio and Pay described him as the type of player the team needed but he wanted to assess him at training before deciding when he would make his NRL debut.
"We spoke about it and said we’ll see how we are," Pay said. "He hasn’t run for quite a while so if he is ready he is ready, if not we will give him another week.
"He will have a week at training, he hasn’t run for two weeks because he has been stuck in a hotel room so we assess him this week and see how he is.”
The arrival of Thompson is the beginning of a recruitment drive Pay hopes will enable the Bulldogs to be a competitive force in the NRL again.
Match Highlights: Bulldogs v Wests Tigers
After overcoming the loss of fullback Will Hopoate to lead 6-0 midway through the first half against the Tigers, they fell away to concede seven unanswered tries.
Pay said simple errors and a poor kicking game contributed to the loss but it is widely acknowledged Canterbury’s roster has been hamstrung by salary cap restrictions for several years.
"We have always said that we want to put two or three quality players around our young guys and that is how we are going to improve," Pay said.
"We have got Luke Thompson turning up here this week. He is a quality player, he is an international, he has won premiership in the Super League, he is a fit guy, he has got plenty of leg speed so we are very hopeful.
"At the end of the day there is light at the end of the tunnel, we need to get into the market and we need to buy three or four quality players and build on what we are doing.
"Hopefully that will make a difference to our team and we need to keep bringing these young blokes along."
While the arrival of Thompson will provide a boost, Pay said Canterbury's players needed to keep working hard to improve.
"You have just got to make sure you turn up each and every week," he said.
"We spoke about it down there a little while ago about how it’s hard work and we’ve got to stay in the grind.
"We get a decent 20 minutes out of them and then they go away from what they are doing. It’s tough."