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Returning Bulldog Sexton gives social media the boot

Toby Sexton hopes a self-imposed social media ban can be the catalyst for a long and healthy career as Canterbury's long-term halfback.

Once a highly-touted schoolboy prospect, Sexton landed at Belmore from the Gold Coast Titans last year but found himself stuck behind journeyman Drew Hutchison to start 2024.

After being left in reserve grade by Bulldogs coach Cameron Ciraldo for the first half of the season, Sexton made just his first start of the year in last week's 44-12 win over St George Illawarra.

Long-suffering Dogs fans had been calling for the 23-year-old to be let loose much earlier than last week.

But Sexton, who will start against Newcastle on Friday, heard nothing.

"I haven't had social media for the last month, so all of that is external noise," he told AAP.

"It doesn't faze me anymore … the noise used to rattle me and I'd ride the highs so high and the lows so low.

"It wasn't helping my game out and getting away from it has helped me tick it off.

"It would pop up randomly and it was stuff I didn't need to be focusing on.

"I didn't know if it would work or not but I feel it's helped me out a bit."

Toby Sexton.
Toby Sexton finds open space during a match against Souths last season. (Mark Evans/AAP PHOTOS)

Sexton didn't find it hard to watch from the sidelines as Canterbury 5-6 climbed up the ladder.

"I was more excited than ever because the first-grade side was playing really good footy, but seeing the combinations I could link up with," Sexton said.

"We (Ciraldo and I) have a really good relationship and he's been honest with me the whole time about telling me where I was at and I was pumped to get my chance and now I feel ready to play first grade."

Sexton won't have things all his own way away to the Knights, given Canterbury are missing Matt Burton and Stephen Crichton to State of Origin duty and back-rower Viliame Kikau is sidelined for the next six weeks.

"I think we're in a pretty good position as a club where we obviously want to be higher up on the ladder," Sexton said.

"I think all year our NSW Cup side have done a tremendous job and with Critta and Burton with the Origin side, we can pick boys out of that squad and give them an opportunity."