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Will Hopoate out as Dogs to play Sunday

AAP logoAAP 4/09/2016 By James MacSmith and Matt Encarnacion

Canterbury face an outside-back crisis for next Sunday's elimination NRL final with Will Hopoate and Sam Perrett set to be unavailable for selection.

Hopoate has so far declined to play on Sundays this season due to his religious beliefs, while Perrett is not due back from a neck injury until week two of the finals should Canterbury progress.

Rookie winger Reimis Smith is out with a broken leg, while likely replacement option Tyrone Phillips only recently returned from injury in the NSW Cup.

Despite both teams being based in western Sydney, the match will bizarrely be played in the eastern suburbs at Allianz Stadium due to scheduling clashes with the AFL.

Penrith clinched sixth spot and a home final from the Bulldogs following their thrashing of Manly on Sunday night, however Panthers coach Anthony Griffin wasn't too fussed by the venue.

Asked if he had any input in the location of the match, he said: "We'd be playing here if I did. I got told this morning that the NRL won't allow a playoff here and that Allianz was our only option.

"It's a semi-final. To be honest, I don't really care where we play.

"Obviously first choice would've been to play here but the rules or the policy don't allow us to do that. We've just got to be play where we told."

Canterbury will at least welcome back Sam Kasiano from the suspension he received for kicking Broncos skipper Corey Parker in the mouth.

The Bulldogs enter the match on a three-game losing streak, however Griffin, whose side have now won five on the trot and six of their past seven, said the Bulldogs remain a tough proposition.

"(They are) experienced, big, used to playing semi-finals, used to winning. They'll be very hard to beat," he said.

A mouth-watering local derby between Brisbane and Gold Coast at Suncorp Stadium is the first elimination final and will be played on Friday night.

Canberra will host Cronulla in the first qualifying final on Saturday evening, though the Raiders are likely to again be without Blake Austin.

Minor premiers Melbourne meet defending premiers North Queensland at AAMI Park later that night.

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