Dog With The Heart Of A Rabbit

Clever Canterbury Bulldog five-eighth Braith Anasta has to be the one that got away for fellow National Rugby League (NRL) club South Sydney.

Anasta's father, Peter, played a few first grade games for the Rabbitohs, his family were strong Souths supporters, and until last night an uncle, George Piggins, was chairman of the troubled club.

The five-eighth said in Wellington yesterday that growing up in Sydney's Eastern Suburbs he was never a Bulldogs fan and none of his heroes played for the club.

However, when he came to sign for an NRL club Souths had been dropped from first grade and Anasta knew it was not in his best interests to join them while their future was in doubt.

The dynamic youngster was courted by numerous clubs, including the Bulldogs, Sydney Roosters, Canberra, Melbourne and St George-Illawarra.

Anasta, 21, eventually chose the Bulldogs and since his first grade debut in 2000 has never looked back.

He is recovering from a depressed sternum fracture, suffered almost two weeks ago in round three against Wests Tigers.

Anasta was targeting a return in round seven at the end of the month against Canberra, a week before the Bulldogs meet the New Zealand Warriors at Westpac Stadium on May 2.

That night the Warrior he will be most anxious to help subdue will be halfback Stacey Jones. Anasta rated Newcastle's Andrew Johns as the only halfback in the NRL superior to Jones, who he said had few weaknesses.

"Every year Stacey gets closer to Joey (Johns)," Anasta said.

"About his only weaknesses are that being a small fella the big guys are going to run at him and look to off-load in the tackle."

Jones more than survived last time the two sides met in round two on March 23. The Warriors won 24-20 at Ericsson Stadium.

The 1.89m, 96kg Anasta is a bit of a rarity in league. The family on his father's side are Greek and the community are very much into soccer.

Among Anasta's priorities is to recover his place in the Kangaroo team after touring Great Britain in 2001. He has been chosen in the preliminary New South Wales State of Origin squad for this year and is seen as having a future similar to those he admired as a child - Brad Fittler, Laurie Daley and Wally Lewis.