DESPITE being singled out by Johnathan Thurston for an air raid on his return to competitive rugby league on Saturday night, Steve Turner still wants a shot at Canterbury’s fullback hotseat.
Turner, who missed all but eight games of last season due to a knee injury, must have thought he would get an easier ride against North Queensland when new recruit Drury Lowe beat him to Ben Barba’s vacant no.1 shirt.
Instead he was bombed by Thurston after only two minutes, pummelled by Brent Tate as he caught the ball and winger Ashley Graham scooped up possession to score the first of his two tries.
Given that the identity of the Dogs fullback had been a secret until kick-off, captain Thurston was asked whether he had targeted whoever was on the left wing or had gone specifically for Turner.
The answer was Turner. “It was his first game back … we wanted to put him under the pump and that’s what we did,” said Thurston.
The former NSW flanker, who hit back well with a try of his own eight minutes later, responded: “Thanks JT!
“I expect that, being one of the smaller wingers in the game.
“It’s been about 19 months since I played so I was pretty excited and pretty happy in the pre-season. For me personally, I thought I made steps forward considering I’ve been out for such a long period of time.
“I was looking forward to playing fullback. Circumstances gave either myself or Drury the opportunity to be there. I thought the kid was good. He’s certainly going to learn over the next few weeks.
“And I’m sure if I’m given the opportunity, I’ll grab it because I do enjoy playing fullback. But I was back on my wing and I was lucky enough to get a try so I’m off the nudie (run) already.
“We both trained there during the week. Des (Hasler) spoke to us towards the end of the week, (said) that this was going to happen and being a senior player, an older player, you just do what’s best for the team.”
Graham scored 21 tries last season – one behind Barba, who has been stood down indefinitely because of personal problems.
“There’s areas of our game we really need to work on,” Graham said. “In the second half, we defended our line well but we really got off to a slow start and it almost cost us.
“We know if we play well, we’re going to win in Sydney, Brisbane, Townsville, where-ever.”
*After withdrawing from the Bulldogs’ round two match, Steve Turner retired from rugby league due to injury. This story never appeared in print.
Filed for: RUGBY LEAGUE WEEK