A horror streak of bad luck has struck down Canterbury five-eighth Kieran Foran for the start of the 2020 NRL season, but the man expected to replace him has a golden opportunity.
Bulldogs half Jack Cogger is off-contract at the end of the year and hopes to establish himself as a consistent first-grader while filling in for Foran this season.
The 22-year-old former Newcastle half signed a two-year contract with the Bulldogs at the start of 2019 as backup for Foran, but ended the season with 17 games as the star five-eighth battled injury.
With Foran now dealing with another shoulder injury that is expected to rule him out for most of the season, Cogger has been given the chance to rekindle his budding combination with Lachlan Lewis.
"It's just a part of rugby league, injuries, timing and luck. That's all a part of the game," he told AAP.
"There's a little opportunity for me to hopefully cement myself as a first-grader. Kieran will be back mid or late season and hopefully by then I'm playing some really good footy.
"That's just going to make me work harder to make sure I'm playing good footy from round one and if I'm playing really good footy, he's got to come back and play well as well and it can only be good for the club and the team moving forward.
"At the end of the day if we're winning, everyone's happy."
Cogger started his career with the Knights in 2016 and has now played 37 NRL games across four seasons.
Foran, who has played just 26 games for the Bulldogs across the past two years, is tracking well for a return to the field midway through the season.
Cogger said the New Zealand international is at training every day with his teammates offering tips and support.
"That's the thing about Kieran, he's a team player and he always wants the team to do well. Hopefully when he comes back in mid or late season we're in a really good position and he can add to that," Cogger said.
"He's obviously limited in what he can do but it's been said about him many times, he's the ultimate professional and he's doing everything the doctors and the physio staff will allow him to like always I think we'll see Kieran on the field earlier than anyone expects."
Australian Associated Press