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Bulldogs star Viliame Kikau has credited a fresh outlook on football as the inspiration for his stunning start to the season. 

The edge forward has played a key role in Canterbury's surge up the ladder this year and currently sits sixth in the Dally M standings. 

Kikau arrived at Belmore last season as a highly-prized recruit following back-to-back titles at Penrith, but endured a frustrating first season with the club as he was limited to just nine matches due to a series of injuries.

Having already played seven games in 2024, the 29-year-old concedes he was placing too much pressure on himself to deliver and revealed he has adopted a new mindset this year.

Kikau activates beast mode

"It's been a really challenging 12 months for me," Kikau said. "Coming to the club, I was wanting to put my best foot forward and gain the trust from the players and the trust and respect from the team itself. 

"It didn't work out for me last year. I stepped away, worked on myself mentally, I couldn't do much about the [injuries], injuries happen, but I wanted to make sure I put in a good pre-season in the summer and hopefully it plays out this year."

Kikau now views the injuries of the past year as a blessing in disguise and revealed it allowed him to reset both physically and mentally.

Viliame Kikau has credited a clear mind for his impressive start to 2024.
Viliame Kikau has credited a clear mind for his impressive start to 2024. ©NRL Photos

The time away from the game provided an opportunity to establish what he needed to do to return to the form that saw him become one of the most dangerous forwards in the game.

Eventually Kikau realised the best way to help his team was to focus on why the Bulldogs signed him in the first place. 

"Maybe I was [putting too much pressure on myself]," he said. "I was just trying my best, that's all I've always done. I was trying to put my best foot forward and injuries kept piling up for me in the last 12 months. 

"It was probably a blessing in disguise for me. I got away from the game a bit, it gave me time to work on my mental stuff and it's good to come into this year with a fresh mindset.

"I'm just controlling what I can control and [focusing on] being present and staying in the moment. I'm coming to training just worried about myself and my job. When I feel like I'm doing my job and if the team does their job, everything works out."

Kikau's form comes as the Bulldogs prepare to return to action against the Wests Tigers on Saturday after having the bye last week.

The team is riding high following a convincing 36-12 win over the Knights in round seven. 

The game was the side's best attacking performance of the year and helped silence some of the queries over halfback Drew Hutchison's ability to guide the team to the finals. 

The playmaker revealed he has tuned out the external noise and is instead focused on providing a platform for his teammates to shine on the field.

Drew Hutchison is confident the Bulldogs are building their way into the season.
Drew Hutchison is confident the Bulldogs are building their way into the season. ©NRL Photos

"If you look at the athletes we have in our team, I wouldn't call myself one of them," Hutchison said. 

"My job is to give them as much chance as possible to shine, to showcase what they can do and that's break open games."

Acknowledgement of Country

Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs respect and honour the Darug and Eora nations, who are the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.