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Bulldogs v Dolphins: Wait over for Kikau; JMK back on deck

The Dolphins will return from a bye desperate to keep their finals hopes alive when they take on a bolstered Bulldogs in Bundaberg.

Canterbury have faced a significant injury crisis this season, with marquee signing Viliame Kikau ruled out since Round 4 and Kangaroos winger Josh Addo-Carr chalking just 10 games for the Belmore club. 

However, with a number of troops expected back this week, Cameron Ciraldo's side will be out to restore some pride after a so far disappointing season has them languishing in 16th position on the ladder. 

"We had 15 players out of our top squad unavailable (Round 21) and I think seven or eight of them will come back into the NRL squad next week," Ciraldo said following the Bulldog's loss to the Panthers. 

"Fox (Addo-Carr), Kiks (Kikau), Toby Sexton, Ryan Sutton, Braidon Burns, they're all there and ready to go next week so we've got a bit of competition for spots there and that's a good thing."

Meanwhile, sitting just two points outside the top eight, Wayne Bennett's Dolphins are still very much in the mix for finals footy but will need to take advantage of their favourites tag and put the clamp on the Bulldogs with clashes against the Knights and Roosters around the corner.

While it's a home game for the Bulldogs, the regional fixture will be a homecoming for Dolphins forward Felise Kaufusi who grew up playing for the Bundaberg Brothers Junior Rugby League Club.

Team News 
Bulldogs: Viliame Kikau (pectoral) is back for his first game since Round 4 in a huge boost for the Bulldogs who also welcome back Josh Addo-Carr (hamstring). Jacob Preston is back on deck after being a late withdrawal from the Panthers game due to illness while Braidon Burns (abdomen) is also good to go. Toby Sexton (concussion) is back at halfback alongside Matt Burton at five-eighth. Sam Hughes and Kurtis Morrin dropped off the bench in the 24-hour update and are replaced by Harrison Edwards and Ryan Sutton. New recruit Liam Knight remains in the reserves and could make his club debut. 

Dolphins: Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow returns to fullback after two games in the centres, so Kodi Nikorima shifts to five-eighth and Anthony Milford to the bench. Valynce Te Whare is the new centre. Hooker Jeremy Marshall-King looks set to return from a shoulder injury after he remained in the squad in Saturday's 24-hour update and rookie hooker Harrison Graham dropped out. Kenny Bromwich starts at lock and Ray Stone is out with a broken hand. Jarrod Wallace is good to go after successfully challenging his Grade 1 Shoulder Charge last week.

Stat Attack

  • Bulldogs five-eighth Matt Burton has produced the most amount of short dropouts this season with 19. 
  • The Bulldogs have made more tackles than any other team this season with 6,211.
  • Dolphins winger Jamayne Isaako is leading the competition in points scored with 173. He has played and scored in every game for the Dolphins.
  • The Bulldogs have won only two of their past 21 games in Queensland.
  • Dolphins fullback Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow has scored 15 tries in 15 games in 2023.
  • Bulldogs winger Josh Addo-Carr has scored 38 tries in 35 games at Queensland venues.
  • The Bulldogs have conceded 268 points in their past six games.

Stats supplied by David Middleton, League Information Services, author of the official annual of the NRL.

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