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Canterbury exploring all options to keep promising pups on the leash

ONLY the most ardent Canterbury fans stop these two rookie Bulldogs in the street and, regardless of whether they are victorious on Sunday, that will soon change.

Josh Jackson and Dale Finucane might not have any gas in the barbecue or time to take out the garbage bags that have found a home on their third-story verandah but at least they have bright futures as footballers.

The 21-year-old former Junior Kangaroos from country NSW, who live together in a Menai apartment, have been touted as the future of the club. Plans are already in place to ensure the pair remain at the Bulldogs beyond their 2014 contract expiry date. ''I was sitting there with Des [Hasler, coach] and Todd [Greenberg, CEO] last week, and they obviously want to start discussing the boys' longer-term future,'' their manager, Andrew Purcell, said. ''They obviously see them hopefully playing a role at the club for a long time. We've started that process about extending them.''

Brought to the club from the country as 17-year-olds by former recruitment manager Peter Mulholland, the pair have been inseparable on and off the paddock.

On it, they've gone through the SG Ball, Toyota Cup and NSW Cup ranks before making their NRL debuts within three weeks of each other midway through this season.

Off it, their friendship has blossomed since their days together in the ''Dog House'', the former home of Johnathan Thurston and many other promising juniors that have been brought to the club.


Finucane, a product of Bega who has twice been selected in the Toyota Cup team of the year, admitted having Jackson by his side for their maiden grand final will make it all the more special. ''Progressing through and living together and having the same agendas, it's really helped,'' Finucane said.

''We've been able to talk to each other about our games and help each other improve. It's always good to have someone there to push you along and share the good and bad times with … running out with him on Sunday will be a special occasion for both of us.''

Jackson, who is studying a bachelor of exercise science by correspondence through the University of Newcastle, has made the most of the opportunity that has come from the knee injury to second-rower Dene Halatau back in round 19.

The boy from Gulgong has become a regular fixture in Hasler's starting line-up and his emergence, as well as that of Finucane, is one of the reasons why veteran David Stagg is being ushered out the door.

Jackson said he owed a lot to the Bulldogs for the way they have treated him since he arrived at Belmore.

''They've looked after us from the first time we got here,'' he said.

''With the house and everything, they are a great club and I intend to stay here as long as they want me.''