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Mahoney eager to let Hetherington feud subside

Canterbury hooker Reed Mahoney has no desire to rekindle his feud with Newcastle prop Jack Hetherington as the pair get set to lock horns for the first time since their eye-catching tunnel square-up.

Mahoney's experience will be vital for the Bulldogs as they hit the road to Newcastle on Friday without first-choice five-eighth Matt Burton, captain Stephen Crichton and back-rower Viliame Kikau.

Burton and Crichton have been drafted into the NSW State of Origin squad, while Kikau looks set to spend more than a month on the sideline.

Canterbury football manager Phil Gould posted on X on Monday that Kikau could miss up to six weeks with a fractured finger.

Kikau
Rampaging Viliame Kikau is set to be sidelined by a finger injury. (James Gourley/AAP PHOTOS)

It leaves Mahoney shaping as a likely fill-in Bulldogs skipper ahead of his reunion with hot-headed Knights prop Hetherington.

When the two sides met in April the pair were involved in a set-to in the tunnel after Mahoney had goaded Hetherington and the duo were sent to the sin-bin.

Hetherington shaped up like a boxer before shoving Mahoney in the chest, earning himself a week-long suspension.

The Bulldogs No.9, who avoided a ban, said then Hetherington had "big-man syndrome", while the Newcastle forward returned serve by labelling Mahoney a "smart arse".

It sets the scene for Friday's meeting in which the Dogs (5-6) can strengthen their bid for a top-eight spot, although Mahoney is keen to downplay the significance of their reunion.

"It's just footy, I don't hold any grudges or anything," Mahoney told AAP.

"I'm just going to out there to play footy and win.

"I haven't really thought about it, but I probably won't (look to wind him up)."

Mahoney said last week's 44-12 win over St George Illawarra was one of the most encouraging of this season and claimed there was no reason the Dogs couldn't knock off the Knights even without stars Burton, Kikau and Crichton.

"The whole 80 minutes was pleasing, we've obviously put little patches together during the year but all our points came in the second half.

"We slowly kept chopping the tree down and the next challenge is to do it again this week.

"We've got a great squad here and everyone has filled in somewhere during training.

"With those boys in Origin, it's exciting for them and whoever comes in will do the job. 'Kiks' being out hurts but it's the same someone will do a job replacing him."