The NSW Blues have been named for the first game of the 2017 #Origin series.
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Bulldogs legend Steve Mortimer says halves Brent Sherwin and Ben Roberts need to step up and offer the much-vaunted Dogs pack some finals support.
Despite the inconsistent form, the Bulldogs remain the team most critics think could challenge premiership favourites Melbourne, thanks largely to their fearful pack. But Mortimer says they'll continue to struggle for consistency unless Sherwin and Roberts take more of the initiative.
Mortimer says whichever of the Bulldogs or Eels halves pairing shines on Saturday night will likely win their blockbuster semi-final.
In the Parramatta camp, Nathan Hindmarsh says Saturday night's clash with traditional rivals the Bulldogs is the one finals match-up he'd been desperate to avoid.
The Eels and the Bulldogs will revive memories of years gone by when they again lock horns at the business end of the season with the winner to progress to a preliminary final against Melbourne.
The Bulldogs have lost their last three matches but the poor form has done little to curb Hindmarsh's wariness. Hindmarsh says the Bulldogs pack is their undoubted strength, which on Saturday night is likely to contain five Test representatives with the return of Kiwi colossus Sonny Bill Williams.
Meanwhile, Rugby league great Mal Meninga says critics should ease off the hype surrounding Melbourne teen sensation Israel Folau.
Folau has produced a remarkable rookie season, his towering stature and powerful body drawing comparisons with Meninga.
But the former Test captain says the media should ease off and allow the 18-year-old to forge his own reputation rather than be labelled with an unnecessary tag.