Phil Gould has bemoaned the Bulldogs' 'terrible' NRL draw that will see the club face South Sydney on Friday afternoon just five days after their win over the Cowboys on Sunday night. The Bulldogs produced an extraordinary comeback to beat last year's preliminary finalists, with Matt Burton kicking a field goal in golden point to secure a 15-14 victory.
But the Dogs will now have to back up just five days later to face the Rabbitohs on Good Friday, and will be doing so without some of their gun forwards. Viliame Kikau will miss a second-consecutive match due to the NRL's mandatory 11-day stand-down period after he was concussed at training on Friday.
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Young front-rower Franklin Pele fractured his arm against the Cowboys, while Luke Thompson is still a number of weeks away after injuring his foot in the pre-season. The Bulldogs had been hoping to get Tevita Pangai Jr back for the clash against Souths, but have opted to give him one more week due to the short turnaround.
Pangai was initially expected to return from a calf injury suffered in January in round four, but won't be available until at least round seven against Parramatta. Taking to Twitter on Monday afternoon, Gould revealed that Pangai will return to training with the main group this week, but will only be able to get one session under his belt and therefore won't be ready to face Souths.
"TPJ will join the main group for training this week, for the first time since January. Albeit a very short week, because of the 4 day turnaround," Gould tweeted, before labelling the draw 'terrible'.
"Probably only one light session for the team to prepare for Good Friday game. (Terrible draw). TPJ will need to do much more. They’d like to see him complete a couple of weeks of training before playing."
TPJ will join the main group for training this week, for the first time since January. Albeit a very short week, because of the 4 day turnaround. Probably only one light session for the team to prepare for Good Friday game. (Terrible draw). TPJ will need to do much more. They’d… https://t.co/szTQy2B4ts
— Phil Gould (@PhilGould15) April 3, 2023
Phil Gould lashes out over 'farcical' hip-drop tackles
The Bulldogs will also be without utility Jayden Okunbor, who was sin-binned for a 'hip-drop' tackle against the Cowboys and given a one-week ban. The winger-turned-forward received a grade-two dangerous contact charge from the match review committee on Monday morning, and accepted his fate on Tuesday.
Along with Okunbor, Marata Niukore of the Warriors and Dale Finucane of the Sharks were also sin-binned, placed on report and charged for committing the illegal tackle in round five, which is defined by a player dropping his weight onto the back of a ball-carrying opponent's legs. Finucane will miss three matches, Niukore two and Okunbor one, after all three players opted against challenging at the judiciary.
Discussing the situation on 100% Footy on Monday night, Gould blasted the match review committee. "That's the problem with our game - when we get one little incident about a thing, they group in a whole other group of tackles that don't resemble that whatsoever," Gould said.
"The three hip-drop charges on the weekend are farcical. They're not hip-drop tackles in the traditional sense. We as footballers can see that. But they'll group them in it and you won't beat them at the judiciary.
"No way they're going to let all three off, so all three will be found guilty ... You're wasting your time going down there and trying to plead your case. They're not hip-drop tackles. We can see it as footballers, coaches can see it. It's frustrating."
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