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Canterbury pack stung by soft tag

For a club which once boasted a feared forward pack dubbed `the Dogs of war', being labelled soft was the ultimate insult.
Canterbury pack stung by soft tag
by AAP

By Steve Jancetic

SYDNEY, August 11 AAP - For a club which once boasted a feared forward pack dubbed `the Dogs of war', being labelled soft was the ultimate insult.

No-one is quite sure just who made the remark, but it got back the boys at Canterbury - and they are now ready to make their NRL rivals pay.

With the likes of Sam Kasiano, Frank Pritchard, Tony Williams and Greg Eastwood, the Bulldogs boast one of the biggest packs in the competition, their battle with Gold Coast big men Nate Myles, Dave Taylor and Ryan James set to be an epic confrontation at ANZ Stadium on Monday night.

The Bulldogs forwards flexed their muscle in last Monday's win over St George Illawarra, rumbling their way downfield to provide the impetus for 31 unanswered second half points in as many minutes in the 39-20 victory.

It was a performance which rekindled memories of the feared Warren Ryan-coached Canterbury packs of the 1980s, featuring Peter Tunks, David Gillespie, Paul Dunn, Peter Kelly and Steve Folkes, or the one which delivered the club the 2004 title with the likes of Willie Mason, Sonny Bill Williams, Mark O'Meley and Roy Asotasi leading the way.

"A few weeks ago a lot of people were calling our forwards soft and we took that personally," Eastwood said.

"It hit most of us, especially the type of guys we are - big Frank and Sam and Tony Williams - they didn't want to be labelled that.

"We took it on board and spoke about it and want to work hard."

Asked if the criticism stung, Eastwood said:

"Definitely. Most teams would - you don't want to have that soft tag across your forward pack.

"If we can do the job we definitely have the exciting backs to finish it off."

The Bulldogs need to keep winning if they are to stay in the hunt for a top four berth, while Canberra's loss to the Sydney Roosters means that the Titans can move back into the top eight if they score an upset on Monday night.

Forwards Ryan James and big Dave Taylor have hit form in recent weeks, but it will be the work of makeshift halves pairing Ashley Harrison and Aidan Sezer that could be decisive.

The Bulldogs said earlier in the week they expected William Zillman to be a late inclusion, but it appears the fullback won't be available with David Mead again filling the role.

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