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Allan preaches patience as youthful spine feels its way

Corey Allan says the biggest difference in the Bulldogs' young spine compared to the veterans he played with at Souths is the instinctual side of the game that can only be developed by years of first grade.

At the end of last season, Allan was playing fullback in a winning State of Origin decider with Daly Cherry-Evans, Cameron Munster and Jake Friend in the other key playmaking roles.

Before that, he was working through a finals campaign at the Rabbitohs with three more Origin players in Adam Reynolds, Cody Walker and Damien Cook rounding out the spine.

So when he ran out for round one at fullback for Canterbury in a spine that featured 20-year-old Jake Averillo in his third ever game at five-eighth, 22-year-old halfback Kyle Flanagan in his second full season as a No.7 and utility forward Sione Katoa covering for Jeremy Marshall-King at hooker, he wasn't expecting miracles.

But after a 16-point loss that featured some bright points, notably the form of Flanagan, Allan said the combinations will improve week by week.

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"As the weeks go on we'll work out our combinations, work out what works best and what doesn't and then I can start injecting myself a bit more," he said.

"We're still in a learning stage right now. Things will get better as time goes on.

"I think the hardest thing with us is when you get more experienced halves, they know when to pull the trigger or when to play the game out.

"I think because we're all young we're just in a way going to want to score off every play, like we were a bit too excited. I'm the same.

"Our hardest thing is going to be to compose ourselves when times are getting tough and learning. It's something we're working on and as we get more games under our belt we'll start to learn that a bit more too."

Allan has no shortage of faith in Flanagan, in part because of their history together at junior level.

"I knew Flano before I came here," Allan said. "We played Junior Kangaroos together, he was actually my roomie over in New Zealand."

Having served an apprenticeship under the unflappable Cooper Cronk at the Roosters, Flanagan is leading the way when it comes to keeping the playmakers composed.

Kyle Flanagan (bottom left) and Corey Allan (top right) in the 2018 Junior Kangaroos team.
Kyle Flanagan (bottom left) and Corey Allan (top right) in the 2018 Junior Kangaroos team.

"Flano's been under Cronk and stuff like that so he's got a pretty good sense and Jake's a smart footballer," Allan added.

"They're both pretty good at it. Sometimes we get a bit excited I think. We've only had one game.

"It's kind of hard to tell at the moment but I think in a couple of weeks we'll see a lot more dominance coming from both halves."

The key to defending on the edge

The biggest challenge compared to the senior leaders Allan played under last year is those instincts that take years to hone.

"The hardest thing is, playing under Reynolds and Cody, they can see a lot of things unfold before it's going to happen through their experience," he said.

"With us younger fellas, we're sort of reacting. As we play a bit more with each other, we'll get the combinations, we'll know what each other likes to do and a lot of things will start opening up."