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Hickey eager to lead the Bulldogs pack

By Ben Horne 27/03/2010 12:39:57 PM Comments (0)

Speculation over Ben Hannant's future and an injury to Canterbury's other starting prop Michael Hodgson has given Jarrod Hickey further motivation to earn a new NRL deal at the Bulldogs beyond this season.

The off-contract front rower has declared he's primed for a big showing against the Sydney Roosters on Sunday at ANZ Stadium, as he sets out to prove he can lead the Bulldogs' pack into the future.

With the 30-year-old Hodgson out for up to six weeks with a knee injury, Hickey needs to lay a platform for his sluggish side who are winless from their first two starts.

And if Hannant is granted a release to return to Queensland next year, then Hickey will have a huge void to fill if he stays on at Belmore himself.

Hickey recognises that current circumstances have presented him with an ideal opportunity to assert himself as an elite front rower.

"I suppose as bad as it all is it's a golden opportunity for myself so I can prove what I've got and hopefully reward myself with a contract," Hickey said of Hodgson's injury.

In regards to Hannant's possible departure, he was similarly optimistic.

"It would be a great opportunity (to lead the pack) but knowing Kev (coach Kevin Moore) he likes to have a few front rowers around so I don't think it's a role on one individual," Hickey said.

"On a personal level I really want to perform well this next couple of weeks and really help the team get to where we need to be to be in finals contention at the end of the year.

"Losing Benny would be a big disappointment but I'm sure they've got plenty of plans in place for what they want to do.

"I don't even know if I'll be there next year at the moment so I can't really worry much about next year.

"I'm just trying to play some decent footy and we'll start talking (about my contract) then."

After it was revealed on the day of last week's match against the Dragons that Ben Hannant was seeking a compassionate release from the Bulldogs, the blond-haired prop received further distractions this week.

Gold Coast captain Scott Prince advised his club to stay away from Hannant until the end of the season at risk of disrupting the Titans' team morale.

But Hickey said the Queensland enforcer was professional enough to get on with business against the in-form Roosters despite the talk over his future.

"Benny's one of the most professional blokes and he'll be keen to rip in," Hickey said.

"Last week was a bit unfortunate the way it came out and being on game day.

"But we've left it all behind us ... we don't have to worry about hearing rumours or what not anymore.

"As Benny said, he's here this year and that's the main thing at the moment. That's all we're concentrating on so I think Benny's going to have a big game this weekend."

Hickey is confident the Bulldogs can trump the first-placed Roosters if he and his mates in the forwards can dominate their opposites and prevent Mitchell Pearce and Todd Carney from having room to move.

"That is our main role this weekend up the middle, to really get on top and win the battle early and control the battle for the whole game," he said.

"It's been the worst way to start the season but it's only early in the comp and we're not hitting panic buttons."

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