Bulldogs duo certain starters for Raiders
MOSES Mbye and Josh Morris will be certain starters for Canterbury against Canberra on Thursday night with NRL coach Dean Pay admitting pressure is already beginning to mount.
The 14th-placed Bulldogs have started the season with just one win in the opening month for the third time in six seasons, after going down to South Sydney, Melbourne and Sydney Roosters in the opening four rounds.
They meet an equally desperate Canberra side, who are yet to win a game and are reeling after coach Ricky Stuart claimed his players should be embarrassed to wear the Raiders' jersey last week.
There were fears the Bulldogs would be forced to face the Raiders without Mbye at fullback, given he required six stitches in his jaw following last week's brutal head clash with Robert Jennings.
Morris was also thought to be in some doubt after his throat bore the full brunt of Sam Burgess' forearm in the Good Friday loss, for which Burgess has since been suspended for two weeks.
Morris missed Bulldogs training earlier in the week as he struggled to overcome the knock, and fears for either one of the pair were heightened when outside back Kerrod Holland was also named on the bench.
But Pay said the pair had both been cleared to play.
"(Josh) lost his voice straight away. He struggled for a good while. He was certainly pretty uncomfortable with it," Pay said.
"It took him a little while to get over it. He missed training early in the week, but he will definitely play.
"Moses is going good. He recovered really quickly so he is fine to go this week."
Thursday's clash shapes as a vital one in Canterbury's season. Pay knows the Raiders well having been an assistant there and expects them to respond to Stuart's post-match spray.
The Bulldogs also have tough road trips to North Queensland, Penrith and Brisbane in the weeks following, along with a home clash against premiership- favourites Roosters.
They're also likely to have their forward pack plucked apart and drained through the State of Origin period, with Aaron Woods and David Klemmer likely selections for NSW.
"(The pressure)'s starting to build, obviously you don't want to lose too many games. We missed out last week," Pay said.
"That hurts, we could've been 2-2 and that's okay. But now we're 1-3 and it's starting to build a bit."