O'Donnell back to mix it with Bulldogs - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

O'Donnell back to mix it with Bulldogs

By Wayne Heming 11/08/2009 07:44:11 PM Comments (0)

Luke O'Donnell's reputation to intimidate will be a bonus when the NSW Origin forward resumes his injury-marred season for the Cowboys against an aggressive Bulldogs on Friday night.

While North Queensland has done well coping with the savage loss of creative hooker Aaron Payne (shoulder) who is gone for the season, they've missed O'Donnell's aggression as he recovered from a medial ligament tear suffered against Cronulla early last month.

His absence was significant against Melbourne's pack which dominated the ruck last weekend on the way to a 20-8 win.

His inclusion guarantees the second-placed Bulldogs won't be able to adopt any standover tactics in their Dairy Farmers Stadium clash.

O'Donnell, who's battled a shocking run with injuries over the past few years, is one of those heavy hitters like Brisbane's Tonie Carroll that rivals hate running at or being cleaned up by.

Coach Neil Henry on Tuesday declared both O'Donnell and centre Ashley Graham ready to return from injury provided they got through contact training this week.

"I hope they're both right," he said.

"Luke hasn't done any contact but we've got an opposed session later today so we'll see how he gets through that."

Graham's return pushes Ty Williams back onto the wing for Michael Bani (back injury) but Henry didn't completely rule out a late bid by the former Manly back to play on Friday night.

"We've left him out but he's supposed to train this afternoon," said Henry.

"He could be a late inclusion, but he's very doubtful at the moment."

Henry has named an extended six man bench in case O'Donnell or Graham don't make it through the week.

He was far from disappointed with the number of scoring opportunities the Cowboys created against a well drilled defensive Storm side but conceded they would need to convert their chances against the Bulldogs.

"The Bulldogs have a very high completion rate, a very good kicking game with Brett Kimmorley and with Michael Ennis kicking out of dummy half.

The Bulldogs have won four of their last five starts and need to win to keep in touch with St George Illawarra in the race for the minor premiership.

"They scramble well defensively, they don't give you much possession so you have to be on top of your game to compete," said Henry.

"(Jamal) Idris is improving all the time out on that right edge, Kimmorley is always a threat and (Ben) Roberts has been running the ball well and he's quite dangerous with his footwork.

"(Luke) Patten is solid at the back and they've got a real working pack. Benny Hannant has come back from his knee injury and you've got (Greg) Eastwood with his off-loads.

"If you go through their side they've been very consistent which is why they're sitting up near the top of the table."

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