NRL: Hasler happy with battle hardened Bulldogs

Des Hasler believes Canterbury's tough finals battles with Manly and South Sydney will hold his side in good stead for Sunday's NRL grand final against Melbourne. Photo / Getty Images.
Des Hasler believes Canterbury's tough finals battles with Manly and South Sydney will hold his side in good stead for Sunday's NRL grand final against Melbourne. Photo / Getty Images.

Des Hasler believes Canterbury's tough finals battles with Manly and South Sydney will hold his side in good stead for Sunday's NRL grand final against Melbourne.

The Bulldogs edged out Manly 16-10 in a brutal encounter in week one of the finals before overcoming Souths 32-8 in the preliminary final last Saturday.

Despite the lop-sided looking scoreline, Souths were on top for most of the first half before halfback Adam Reynolds was forced off with an injury allowing the Bulldogs to wrestle control of the game.

Hasler said was happy with his side's preparations leading into the game and his experience of taking Manly to three deciders was invaluable this week.

"I think we've had two reasonably hard hit-outs against Manly and Souths and we will arrive on Sunday in a good position to give it our best," Hasler said at the grand final breakfast in Sydney on Thursday.

Hasler is aiming to become the first man to coach different teams to successive premierships, and said he began plotting Melbourne's downfall as soon as the fulltime siren sounded against Souths.

"You tend to start on a Sunday and work backwards from there," he said.

"You know your routine, what you have to do and where to place things to make sure you're ready."

Bulldogs skipper Michael Ennis said his side would be boosted considerably by the presence of Hasler.

Only Aiden Tolman, David Stagg, Krisnan Inu and Sam Perrett have experience of a grand final and the former NSW hooker said there was no better man than the two-time premiership-winning coach to guide the Bulldogs.

"We're very fortunate to have someone like Des as well as Jim Dymock and Tony Grimaldi on the staff who have both won grand finals," Ennis said.

"It's good that we have been able to draw on the experience of those guys through the week.

"And because of that, it has been really good that we have not had to change our routine through the week."

Melbourne coach Craig Bellamy, who is taking charge of his fifth grand final side, cut a relaxed-looking figure despite fears over the fitness of in-form centre Will Chambers.

Chambers scored a try in the 40-12 win over Manly last Friday and played superbly in attack, but tweaked his hamstring in training on Tuesday.

Youngster Mahe Fonua, who is the first Victorian-born product to come through the Storm's ranks, is standing by to play should Chambers miss out.

But Bellamy is hopeful the former Queensland Reds man will be fit for the big game, and said he'd give him until the eve of the game to prove his fitness.

"Will will hopefully get through a full session today (Thursday)," Bellamy said.

"Ideally we'd like to know today, but if it's touch and go we will definitely give him until Saturday."

-AAP

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