Bulldogs not fretting over Broncos, Barba clash

IAN MCCULLOUGH
Last updated 13:24 04/03/2014
Ben Barba
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SAME FACE, NEW PLACE: Ben Barba, now playing with the Brisbane Broncos, will face his former club, the Canterbury Bulldogs, in their NRL opener on Friday night.

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Canterbury coach Des Hasler insists his players won't be affected by the hype surrounding Friday's round-one NRL clash against Brisbane and Ben Barba.

In a wicked twist of fate, Barba will face the club he left at the end of a troubled 2013 in front of what's expected to be a hostile home crowd in Sydney.

The 2012 Dally M Medallist has already stoked the fire ahead of his return to ANZ Stadium by claiming his new team is friendlier than his old one.

However, Hasler, who confirmed Sam Perrett will start at fullback this season, wasn't interested in fanning the flames.

"There's a few months until State of Origin," he said.

"There's a lot of hype around the Broncos-Canterbury game given the changes on both sides.

"But at the end of the day it matters little. Wherever Ben Barba plays he's going to cause problems.

"But they have a State of Origin back-row so we'll let the media build it up and the players will go out and play."

Barba was scintillating in Hasler's first year at the Bulldogs, helping the side reach the grand final against Melbourne.

However, his off-field issues at the start of last year coincided with a terrible start to the season for the Bulldogs.

Although the side did reach the semi-finals, they fell at the first hurdle to Newcastle.

However, Hasler said the club had put the last 12 months firmly behind them.

But the two-time premiership winning coach said the injuries that hindered his side for large periods of last season haven't been fully eradicated.

"Life goes on and we've all moved on from last year," said Hasler.

"But we'll be without Sam Kasiano, (Greg) Eastwood, (Tim) Lafai and Krisnan Inu.

So we'll get the chance to blood some new players."

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