Dogs could be forced into radical reboot
"YOU can have big, strong blokes but if you haven't got players in key creative positions, you're just running into the breeze."
So says Matthew Johns, who still has plenty of faith in Des Hasler, but is wondering where the next victory is for a Bulldogs side that looks toothless in attack.
Not the best time then, for Canterbury to lose its prized half, highly rated 23-year-old Moses Mbye, who only last year was locked up on a lucrative four-year contract worth about $3 million.
The No.7 will miss the Bulldogs' Thursday night clash with the Broncos after copping a one-week suspension for a shoulder charge.
It will force a reshuffle to a spine that seems to have lost all confidence and may force the meticulous, calculated Hasler out of his comfort zone at the selection table.
The early tip is the Dogs' NSW Cup captain Matt Frawley will come into the side and if that's the case the 22-year-old will have the rare chance to put Hasler's finger on the reboot button.
Neither Mbye or former Origin half Josh Reynolds have set the world on fire so far this season and there's plenty of good judges who don't think the six and seven are a natural fit together.
Both are strong runners of the ball and play their best footy when they go off-plan and follow their instincts.
Hasler needs at least one of them to manage the game plan and steer the side around the park.
That's where Frawley comes in.
If the young man can play an understated role that focuses on straightening up the Bulldogs' attack and kicking well, Hasler might just have something.
Thinking ahead to round six, the focus may turn to Michael Lichaa, a hooker Canterbury paid handsomely to bring over from the Sharks and who has, in the opinions of plenty, failed to deliver on his potential.
Lichaa's contract is up at the end of the year and the Bulldogs may very well look in a different direction.
In the meantime there's Reynolds, who, as a fan favourite, would be much harder for Hasler to drop.
He's played the utility role at Origin level and has shown in the past he's a capable hooker who asks questions of the defence.
It prompted this question from Bryan Fletcher on Fox Sports' Monday Night with Matty Johns: "Would you consider putting Josh Reynolds to nine, putting Moses Mbye to five-eighth and bringing a halfback up from the lower grades?"
He hardly got the question out before Johns replied with an emphatic "yes".
The beauty of the experiment is it's been put on Hasler's plate without the under-pressure coach having to drop the axe at the selection table.
In effect Frawley can have a free swing against the Broncos. If he shows he can do a job alongside an instinctive half, a bold call can come after.
It might just breathe new life into Hasler's Bulldogs career.