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Dogs can't wait for Barba: Graham

Canterbury prop James Graham admits the Bulldogs can't afford to wait for the return of star fullback Ben Barba, with a spot in the NRL top eight still far from assured.
Dogs can't wait for Barba: Graham
by AAP

By Steve Jancetic

SYDNEY, August 4 AAP - Canterbury prop James Graham admits the Bulldogs can't afford to wait for the return of star fullback Ben Barba, with a spot in the NRL top eight still far from assured.

The Bulldogs play the first game of what is expected to be a five-match stretch without the reigning Dally M medal winner when they take on St George Illawarra at WIN Jubilee Stadium on Monday night.

Barba suffered an ankle syndesmosis injury in the last round demolition of Parramatta, a win which lifted the Bulldogs to fifth spot heading into round 21.

But with last year's grand finalists needing three wins from their last six games to guarantee a finals berth, Graham knows his side can't rely on their fleet-footed No.1 to save the day.

"We've got to get there first, we're not counting our chickens just yet that we're there," Graham said.

"We've got to work hard and pick up some more wins on the way.

"Hopefully we can get into form before that time when Benny gets back."

Sam Perrett, who impressed when filling in for Barba against the Eels, will again deputise at the back.

The Dragons remain only a mathematical chance of making the finals, but even if they won all six of their remaining games they would need to rely on a host of other results going their way.

The squad spent part of the week in Kiama on the south coast as coach Steve Price attempted to freshen up his side, but the focus is clearly on 2014 for the red and whites.

To that end they had a fruitful week with fullback Josh Dugan agreeing to terms until the end of the 2017 season, while rookie five-eighth Adam Quinlan also extended his stay with the club.

While a win would no doubt be welcomed by the Dragons, so too would a point, having been held scoreless in their past two matches at Kogarah.


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