The Bulldogs will head into their preliminary final amid speculation teenage superstar Sonny Bill Williams is in the sights of the cashed-up New Zealand Rugby Union.
Williams, 19, is contracted to the Bulldogs for another year and the Belmore-based club is desperate to extend his deal beyond 2005.
However, it now appears they face a battle to retain the prodigiously-talented back rower, with Australian television media reporting Williams had been targeted by the NZRU on Thursday night.
Williams, who was born in Auckland and made his rugby league test debut for the Kiwis earlier this year, is regarded as the most prodigious talent to emerge from across the Tasman in recent memory.
Earlier this year former Australian captain Laurie Daley predicted Williams would go down as the greatest rugby league player produced by the Kiwis.
He has been nurtured by Bulldogs coach Steve Folkes.
Folkes deliberately held Williams back last season, handing him a first grade debut in the opening game this season against Parramatta.
Williams promptly ripped the Eels to shreds and only a month later made his test debut.
Former Brisbane forward Brad Thorn only recently announced he was returning to the Broncos following a stint in rugby union, where he played for the All Blacks.Like