Sports

Mbye says Bulldogs are likely to see best of Friend after criticism

"Jake is a quality player. He's played for Australia, is on the cusp of playing for his state, and the amount of things he's been through and the amount of footy he's played, I don't think it will affect him at all.

"He's been at club when they got a spoon, at the club when they got ring, he's been at both ends of spectrum, I'm sure he's copped criticism along the way and knows how to handle it.

"I'm expecting a real quality game from him this weekend and I'm sure he'll bring it Thursday.

"I caught up with him on Monday. We grew up together, it's always good fun playing against each other, (although) I haven't had many good results against him.

"Hopefully we can get one back on them Thursday.''

Teammate Cooper Cronk was another who leapt to Friend's defence when he said of Fox Sports Monday night: "Jake Friend puts his head in places I wouldn't put my feet.''

Friend has barely run the ball in recent weeks, and been part of a pack dominated by South Sydney and the New Zealand Warriors a fortnight prior to that.

Mbye said the loss of Sio Siua Taukeiaho during the warm-up against Souths could not be under-estimated.

Meanwhile, Mbye said the club and coach Dean Pay would work overtime to sort out the salary cap situation for next year, with the club understood to have just $800,000 to splurge on 12 players in 2019.

"All the sides who have won competitions or been extremely successful have all had good depth,'' Mbye said.

"It's something the current board will be working extremely hard to get right.

"And I'm sure 'Deano' is in there racking his brain with what he's going to do about it, and where he will go from here.''

Canterbury upstaged North Queensland in their own backyard on Saturday with Mbye again one of the club's best.

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Christian Nicolussi

Christian covers rugby league for The Sydney Morning Herald.

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