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Morris shaping as spark for Bulldogs

AAP logoAAP 7/09/2016 By Steve Zemek

Brett Morris is shaping as the man to reignite Canterbury's spluttering NRL campaign with statistics showing he has been far more potent than Will Hopoate this year.

Hopoate's decision to sit out this Sunday's elimination final against Penrith because of his religious beliefs has placed a speed bump in front of coach Des Hasler and his struggling side at the most inopportune time.

Morris has been shifted from the wing to cover Hopoate's fullback position and while having to deal with the problem in week one of the finals is a headache Hasler would rather not have, it could prove the spark the side has been looking for.

Since returning from a knee injury in round 16, Morris has been the side's best attacker, scoring 10 tries in 10 appearances and making eight linebreaks.

And while being forced into positional changes ahead of a final is never ideal, especially given Morris hasn't played at fullback all year, he did spend all of last year at the back and is amongst the side's most experienced big game players.

"I think Hoppa's been great in defence and attack, he's put himself in the right places and that's what we need from Brett as well," Morris' brother and Bulldogs centre Josh Morris said.

"We know how good of a finisher Brett is, whenever he gets half a chance he seems to finish them."

The Bulldogs haven't been themselves since their 36-0 drubbing at the hands of North Queensland in round 20, recording unconvincing wins over St George Illawarra, Newcastle and Manly before suffering three straight losses.

While Hopoate has been terrific defensively all year, and won deserved praise, Morris is a noted attacker and has played his best football at fullback throughout his career.

He was also named the club's joint winner of the player of the year playing in the No.1 last year.

Morris' move to fullback will see Josh form a new three-quarters pairing with winger Tyrone Phillips, having played inside his brother all season.

Josh acknowledged the difficulties of having to shuffle positions in a knock-out situation but backed his teammates to adapt.

"(Brett) trained (at fullback) all of last year and played there as well," Josh said.

"He's comfortable with the role, he knows his job. It's just a matter of helping out whoever's outside me defensively during the week and making sure we're on the same page."

ADDING BITE TO THE BULLDOGS

Brett Morris' 2016 stats

* 10 appearances

* 10 tries

* 2 try assists

* 1 linebreak assist

* 8 linebreaks

* 39 tackle busts

Will Hopoate's 2016 stats

* 21 appearances

* 9 tries

* 8 try assists

* 9 linebreak assists

* 7 linebreaks

* 53 tackle busts

Source: Fox Sports Stats

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