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Wrap: Dogs, Knights, Manly,
Bulldogs enforcer Willie Mason says the embarrassment of missing the finals last year is a key motivator for their charge towards a second NRL title in three years.
Coach Steve Folkes believes his side is better placed than when they won the premiership in 2004 after their salary cap scandal. Folkes says he requested the NRL give the Bulldogs a tough finish to the season to prepare for the finals.
The Dogs meet St George Illawarra on Sunday then face Brisbane at home, Manly away and Penrith away to close the regular season.
The Knights and Sea Eagles will both be out to land hefty blows for their top-four prospects when they open round 23 of the NRL competition at Newcastle tonight.
The Knights are currently fourth on the ladder, but will drop out of the top four if they lose to fifth-placed Manly. Newcastle will be short on front row depth following the withdrawal of interchange prop Luke Davico to injury yesterday, with five-eighth Jarrod Mullen also forced out.
The Sea Eagles will be chasing their first win in nine years at EnergyAustralia Stadium.
Gold Coast Titans managing director Michael Searle has confirmed the new franchise is keen to bring rugby union winger Lote Tuqiri back to league.
Tuqiri comes off contract after next year's Rugby World Cup and Searle believes the Titans stand the best chance of any NRL club in luring the 26-year-old back from the NSW Waratahs and ARU.
However, he says the problem will be revenue with the amount of money the ARU is throwing at him. Searle says ideally Tuqiri will be the Titans' major signing for the 2008 season.