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New faces finding feet at Bulldogs

By Steve Jancetic 04/02/2009 05:35:04 PM Comments (0)

New Bulldogs coach Kevin Moore can only look on with envy at Brisbane's decision to wrap Darren Lockyer in cotton wool for the club's NRL trial matches.

It's a luxury Moore simply can't afford.

With a new coach, new support staff and eight new players in their first grade squad, Moore knows he needs to use the trials to get all his players on the same page.

"The past few years we've probably gone in trying to get everyone in the fulltime squad - which is about 30-35 players - we've tried to get all those blokes a run in first grade in the trials," Moore said.

"This year, certainly in the first 60 minutes, we're going to focus a bit more on the top 20-21 players and give the fringe players maybe a run at the back end of matches."

While Moore will no doubt be keen to give the likes of Ben Hannant, Josh Morris and David Stagg their first run in a Bulldogs jumper, it's the performance of two of his other new boys - Brett Kimmorley and Michael Ennis - which will be of particular interest.

Those two more than anyone else will determine the success of a side looking to rid itself of the wooden spoon.

As the first-choice halfback and hooker respectively, Kimmorley and Ennis will be the two players teammates look towards to make things happen, a sharp change in direction for a club which for so long relied on its powerful pack to steamroll the opposition.

All of which means the pressure will be on the duo to make the new-look team work from the get-go.

"It's not like it's about the results in trials, it's about building your combinations and certainly our combinations need more work than most other teams because we've got some key new players - particularly when you bring in a new No.7, a new No.9," Moore said.

"But in saying that the two blokes that we've brought in in those positions are quality blokes and I think they'll pick it up fairly quickly.

"Certainly our combinations we've been working pretty hard on and the trials give us a chance to build on that further."

The Bulldogs will open their pre-season campaign against St George Illawarra in Wollongong on February 21 with their other warm-up coming against Canberra in Brisbane the following Saturday.

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