Des Hasler has urged Canterbury Bulldogs captain James Graham not to tone down his firebrand style when he returns from suspension in tonight's NRL blockbuster against the Roosters at ANZ Stadium in Sydney.

The rugged English prop has spent a month on the sidelines for his dangerous contact which injured South Sydney kicker Adam Reynolds and contrary conduct when he blasted referee Gerard Sutton.

In his absence, Canterbury have plummeted to 11th place, winning only one of four games, beating last-placed Manly but beaten by St George Illawarra, Wests Tigers and North Queensland.

Asked yesterday if Graham would now temper his playing style, Hasler said: "I hope not.


"James plays the game with a lot of passion and plays it hard.

"It's good to have someone of the quality of James in a leadership position back on the paddock."

Test centre Josh Morris made it clear how important Graham was to the Bulldogs.

"I think he's a great leader for us," Morris told 2KY's Big Sports Breakfast.

"He doesn't talk as much as someone like [former captain] Michael Ennis did - he certainly leads with his actions, and that's something that we've probably been lacking over the past month.

"We've certainly missed the big fella, and everyone's looking forward to him playing alongside us on Friday night."

Meanwhile, Hasler said fans have yet to see the best of Trent Hodkinson this NRL season and he deserves to keep his NSW jumper.

The Bulldogs halfback spent most of the pre-season on the sidelines with a knee injury and did not start running with his teammates until a few weeks out from round one.


Hasler said Hodkinson was beginning to show signs of returning to form.

"I think [Hodkinson] has started to turn the corner a little bit," Hasler said.

"Not that anyone cares, but the off-season wasn't kind to him. He's in a bit of catch-up. That's all part and parcel of the professional game these days.

"But I thought he showed some good signs in the game against the Cowboys, a game we set up and should have won."

NSW coach Laurie Daley's decision on his halves pairing will likely come down to tonight's match with Hodkinson and Josh Reynolds against Roosters pair Mitchell Pearce and James Maloney.