The Dogs of War

Warriors prop Jacob Lillyman isn't buying any talk of a Bulldogs decline. The Sydney club has dropped their first two games in 2017, amid speculation that coach Des Hasler is under threat. "The Bulldogs are the Bulldogs - they are always tough," said Lillyman. "They have been for as long as I can remember and it doesn't matter what else is going on around them. Nothing has changed and we have to be ready [tonight]."

Kearney blindsided
Warriors coach Stephen Kearney was blindsided by an earnest television reporter at training on Tuesday. Our man first asked the Warriors coach if David Kidwell had been left in a "never going to win situation" ahead of the Four Nations last year, after Kearney's late switch from club to country. He then proceeded with several other short arm jabs, which Kearney fended off with aplomb, in a strange line of questioning.

Judiciary mysteries
The NRL judiciary system has been streamlined this season, and the new grading measures are easier to follow than in the past. But the decisions about who gets charged - and what offences they're charged with - are still difficult to understand. Cameron Smith's involvement in a dangerous looking tackle on Solomone Kata last week went unpunished, but there is little doubt that if the roles had been reversed, Kata would have found himself fronting up in Sydney.


Stat of the week
Simon Mannering will equal Stacey Jones' record of 261 Warriors appearances in Dunedin tonight. Mannering - if his body holds together - could become the first Warrior to reach 300 NRL games some time in 2018. He is also one of only three double centurions at the club (along with Jones and Manu Vatuvei), though Ben Matulino (196 games) and Lillyman (169) aren't far away.

World of league
Norway will stage its first youth international match later this year. The Norwegian under-19 team will face Serbia under-18s in Nannestad, just north of Oslo. The Scandinavians will be the underdogs, although coach Joshua Skidmore-Hornby commented that "we are expecting the Viking blood running through the veins of these young warriors to be at the fore".

Where's Steve?
There was a slightly strange scenario last week, as the New Zealand Rugby League called a press conference to announce two key Kiwis appointments, without either of the new faces being present. Sure, the timing was around David Kidwell being in the country and there was no need for new campaign manager Shane Richardson to be flown across the Tasman. But the absence of new assistant coach Steve MacNamara - who is based across the road from the NZRL offices - was a head scratcher.