Interim Canterbury coach Mick Potter said he was surprised by Josh Addo-Carr's exclusion from the NSW Origin squad after a mixed showing in Sunday's 34-24 defeat to St George Illawarra.
Addo-Carr has been one of the mainstays of Brad Fittler's NSW side since 2018, but as he prepared to face the Dragons news filtered through that his new club's form was set to cost him his representative jersey.
The 26-year-old, who joined Canterbury from Melbourne this season, was ultimately overlooked for Sydney Roosters winger Daniel Tupou when the NSW squad was announced, after an indifferent start to life at the Dogs.
Addo-Carr made poor reads in defence in front of 16,991 fans at Belmore, twice shooting out of the line and missing tackles which led to Dragons tries.
The Bulldogs winger, who opted not to speak to the media on Sunday, made one damaging break which led to a try for teammate Aaron Schoupp, but it was not enough to secure an Origin berth.
"I think he's the incumbent and he's a very good Origin player," Potter said prior to official confirmation of Fittler's side.
"I'd be surprised if Josh isn't in the team and that would be disappointing for Josh."
Canterbury were game for the first 20 minutes with a Matt Burton penalty giving them an early lead, but all that was brought undone by the Dogs' inability to keep things simple.
Addo-Carr's first poor read allowed Tautau Moga to go in for the afternoon's first try and a bomb dropped by Matt Dufty allowed Mat Feagai to score.
After Feagai's try Burton hoofed the kick-off into touch on the full, with Ben Hunt burrowing over from close range in the ensuing set.
"Our defence needs to be a lot better than it is," Potter said.
"They were cheap tries and that's the second week I've been here (that's happened), so we need to do something about it.
"It (our goal-line defence) is non-existent, there's no toughness about it."
Canterbury did show some fightback, reversing a 16-2 scoreline to lead 18-16 with 50 minutes gone.
Kyle Flanagan crossed the stripe and Jake Averillo bagged a double, but the Dragons ensured the bottom-placed Bulldogs' hopes of an unlikely win were over pretty quickly.
Zac Lomax went through a gaping hole left by an onrushing Addo-Carr and hooker Andrew McCullough dived in to open up a significant gap.
Schoupp pulled one back for the Dogs but when Blake Lawrie crashed his way over for his first try in 91 games of NRL, the Dragons had secured a second-straight win.
"It was always going to be a tough day coming here, back to Belmore, with a new coach," Dragons coach Anthony Griffin said.
""They probably played their best game of footy for the year and they kept coming.
"We had to win it a couple of times there and the fact we had the resilience to do that was really pleasing."
Australian Associated Press
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