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Bulldogs head north for Close the Gap round

Canterbury will head north on the F3 where they will meet with Newcastle on Saturday at Hunter Stadium for the NRL's Close the Gap round.
Bulldogs head north for Close the Gap round
by NRL

Canterbury will head north on the F3 where they will meet with Newcastle on Saturday at Hunter Stadium for the NRL's Close the Gap round.

Rugby League was the first sporting code in Australia to join the Close the Gap campaign with an inaugural Close the Gap Round in 2009 and this year's game-wide activities will again highlight the importance of working to improve Indigenous health, life expectancy and education and employment opportunities.

Joel Romelo has been named in the starting line up in place of incumbent halfback Kris Keating who is on the road to recovery after a hamstring injury ruled him out of last week's game. NSW Cup dark-horse Harlan Alaalatoa has maintained his position as 18th man.

It will be a big occasion for Captain Michael Ennis, winger Jono Wright and young gun Josh Jackson who are products of the Hunter and are looking forward to support of family and friends in the crowd on Saturday.

A number of Bulldogs players will once again don specially painted boots which represent a wider theme with all games during round 22 dedicated to Oxfam Australia's Close the Gap campaign.

Players wearing the special boots this week include: Michael Ennis, Ben Barba, Jono Wright, Joel Romelo, Krisnan Inu, Frank Pritchard, Greg Eastwood, Perrett, Jake Foster, Denzel King and Jaelen Feeney.

Saturday's Close the Gap round at Hunter Stadium is set to kick off at 5.30pm.

Bulldogs Toyota Cup coach Andy Patmore has made a number of changes to last week's team after the side's dramatic 30-28 loss to the Nth Queensland Cowboys in the dying seconds of the game at ANZ Stadium with mid-season recruit Lloyd Perrett named on a six-man interchange.

Patrick Templeman will lead the team from the back following regular fullback Gerrard McCallum's call up to the NSW Cup side, with Sam Ahofono reclaiming the wing position in place of Ben Stratton who has dropped back to the bench.

Michael Ioapo returns from the NSW Cup side where he will partner David Klemmer in the front row in place of Leilani Latu. After a stand out performance in a losing side, Paul Carter has shifted to Lock with Danny Fualalo filling the second row position and Lachlan Burr dropping to the bench.

Following last week's narrow loss the Bulldogs NYC team remain in a very congested top four, just one point in front of 5th and 6th placed teams. This week's game versus the 12th placed Knights will be a crucial decider in the makeup of the ladder leading in to the back end of the season. Saturday afternoon kickoff is at 3.20pm.

The Bulldogs NSW Cup will be playing under the lights this Friday night when they take on the Western Suburbs Magpies at Lidcombe Oval, with kickoff scheduled for 7.00pm.

Following last week's 22-10 loss against the Wentworthville Magpies and the NRL call up of some key starting players a number of changes have been made to the team.

Gerrard McCallum will be tested in the fullback position receiving a call up from the NYC grade, where he steps in for local boy Daniel Abou-Sleiman who has dropped to the six man bench.

Following Joel Romelo's call up to the NRL, Chad Isles has moved to five-eight where he joins with Captain Trent Cutler in the halves, Cutler is just five points shy of cracking the 700 club points milestone.

James Gavet has shifted to lock in place of Alaalatoa, with Josh Gill promoted to the starting line up in the second row.

Steve Azzi and Junior Roquica have both been included on the bench after promising performances in the club's feeder team.

Bryson Goodwin has again been named on the wing, after making his return from injury following a nine week absence.

Teams for this weekend are as follows:

1 Ben Barba
2 Sam Perrett
3 Josh Morris
4 Krisnan Inu
5 Jonathan Wright
6 Josh Reynolds
7 Joel Romelo
8 Aiden Tolman
9 Michael Ennis [c]
10 James Graham
11 Frank Pritchard
12 Josh Jackson
13 Greg Eastwood

14 Martin Taupau
15 Dale Finucane
16 Corey Payne
17 David Stagg
20 Harlan Alaalatoa

Head Coach: Des Hasler

1 Gerrard McCallum
2 Drury Low
3 Brett Lane
4 Luke MacDougall
5 Bryson Goodwin
6 Chad Isles
7 Trent Cutler
8 Tim Browne
9 Shane Pumipi
10 Jake Finn
11 Josh Gill
12 Jake Foster
13 James Gavet

14 Ray Moujalli
15 Kose Lelei
16 Steve Azzi
17 Junior Roquica
19 Daniel Abou-Sleiman
20 Ratu Tagive

Coach: Barry Ward

Toyota Cup
1 Patrick Templeman
2 Sam Ahofono
3 Moses Mbye [c]
4 Ed Murphy
5 John Sila
6 Jaline Graham
7 Freddie Robinson
8 David Klemmer
9 Dean Janda
10 Michael Ioapo
11 Tupou Sopoaga
12 Danny Fualalo
13 Paul Carter

14 Ben Stratton
15 James Ralphs
16 Lloyd Perrett
17 Lachlan Burr
19 David Minute
20 Matthew Fukofuka

Coach: Andy Patmore

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