Halfback Trent Hodkinson says the return of Josh Reynolds from suspension should take the Dogs back to their winning ways.
The return of Josh Reynolds from suspension will help Canterbury return to their pre-State of Origin pace setting ways according to his NSW halves partner Trent Hodkinson.
Reynolds’s and Hodkinson’s irresistible early season form elevated the Bulldogs to the NRL competition lead courtesy of seven successive wins and cemented the duo as Blues coach Laurie Daley’s halves for the interstate series.
But since the Origin period began Canterbury have won just three from eight, including successive last-start losses to Wests Tigers and North Queensland.
Reynolds copped a three-week holiday for a shoulder charge on Queensland’s Will Chambers in Origin III and returns for Friday’s vital round 21 clash with the struggling Panthers.
Hodkinson said the pair’s combination should benefit greatly from their Origin experience.
Josh Morris is also likely to return for the Dogs from a knee injury suffered in Origin I.
“Josh Reynolds’s return, it is huge for us,” Hodkinson told AAP.
“It will put a few boys back in their normal positions, having Josh back.
“He is a great talker on the field and him controlling one side and myself controlling the other is a big help so I am looking forward to having him back.
“It has been tough for him to be out, but he has been working hard and he is keen to get back on the paddock and it is going to be a plus for us, a big bonus.
“We got a lot out of Origin in terms of confidence in our combination and I’m looking forward to having him back, getting that combination back together and keeping it growing.”
Reynolds’s return will allow stand-in playmaker Tony Williams to go back into the back-row and Morris’s inclusion will tighten up the Canterbury’s left hand side defence which has been suspect in recent weeks.
The Dogs still have a hold on a top four spot but know they can’t afford to keep losing games in such a tight competition.
“We want to get back to where we were and hopefully we can turn it around next week,” Hodkinson said.
“We have to do it sooner rather than later because the finals are coming up and we need to gain some momentum coming into those.”