‘Kasiano can win us the comp’

‘Kasiano can win us the comp’ Written by JOEL GOULD, February 26, 2016

BULLDOGS captain James Graham believes a big year from 130kg behemoth Sam Kasiano could be the catalyst for the club to end their 12-year premiership drought.

“Sam can be the key,” Graham tells RLW. “There are a lot of key components within our group. Aiden Tolman works tirelessly in the middle and there’s no-one I like playing alongside more than him, because I trust him with everything I do.

“But Sam Kasiano coming off the bench can be the difference between us winning the comp or not winning the comp. That’s how important he is and what he has the potential to be for our club.

“Why? The hint’s all in the name, ‘Big Sam’.”

Bulldogs recruitment manager Noel Cleal moved swiftly last year to re-sign Kasiano until the end of 2018. He insists 196cm and 130kg big men such as Kasiano will remain a major force despite the reduced interchange.

After a breakthrough 2012 where he played 24 games, Kasiano missed half of the following two seasons before returning to full fitness again last year. That’s a trend Cleal says must continue.

“Sam has that X-factor and he’s a skilful, big thing,” Cleal says.

“We need Sam to stay on the paddock because he missed footy in 2014, and missed footy the year before. But our medical people know how to manage him now, and he knows himself.

“We’re a better side when he is on the field, fit and healthy.

“The game’s going back to eight replacements and some say it won’t favour big fellas, but there’s always going to be a place in the game for a big fella.

“You need those big fellas like Sam who can catch and pass and dance on their feet because they ask questions of opposition lines.”

Graham needs Kasiano firing to achieve his own goals.

Right across the back of the western grandstand at Belmore is a sign that showcases the Bulldogs’ eight premiership wins, including four from the club’s golden era of the 1980s. Graham sees the list every day and wants to be part of a dynasty like that.

“It’s been a long time and it’s something that only we can rectify,” Graham says.

“History will remember those teams of the 1980s forever, and rightly so. Every day I drive into the training ground and I’m reminded of what they’ve done. I’m very proud to follow in their footsteps.”

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