CANTERBURY premiership winner Craig Polla-Mounter believes the Bulldogs' bruising forward pack gives coach Des Hasler the freedom to play former Noosa Pirate Moses Mbye at hooker in tomorrow's NRL Grand Final.
Polla-Mounter, who finished his career in the No.9 after converting from the halves, said workhorses such as James Graham and Aidan Tolman would make up for Mbye's lack of experience in the middle of the pack.
"They've got a lot of workers in the forward pack to make up for it, but I think he should be okay," said Polla-Mounter, who was raised on the Sunshine Coast and represented the Bulldogs in three grand finals.
"Des has shown a lot of confidence playing him in different positions and I wouldn't be surprised to see him play. I think he's a very big chance to get a run."
Reserve-grade hooker Damien Cook, former Kangaroos back-rower Reni Maitua and New South Wales five-eighth Josh Reynolds have also been touted as possible replacements for Michael Ennis, who is struggling with foot fractures after last week's preliminary final win over Penrith.
Of the options, five-eighth Reynolds has the most NRL experience at hooker. He replaced Ennis in the second half last week, but Polla-Mounter believed it would be a mistake to break-up the halves combination with Trent Hodkinson.
"Their two halves are a real strength of the team and you don't want to mess with that," he said.
"They struggled after the Origin period, when those two weren't on the field together, and now that they're back and Josh Morris is back in the centres that's the big difference."
Mbye's biggest challenge would be adjusting to the dummy-half role, having spent most of his time preparing to play in the halves as a back-up to Reynolds or Hodkinson.
However, the 21-year-old showed his versatility earlier in the year when he made his NRL debut in the centres, after training for only 10 minutes in the position, and did a good job marking hulking Knights centre Joey Leilua.
"You are never a one-position player, especially at my age," Mbye (pictured) said after the game.
"You don't know what position you are going to play.
"If you are going to go a long way, you've got to be open-minded and willing to learn any position and that's the sort of mentality I go for."
THE willingness to learn could pay off with a dream call-up on grand final day and Polla-Mounter, who played halfback when Canterbury won the 1995 grand final after finishing eighth, said Mbye should not be overawed by the experience.
"You just have to enjoy it and relax," Polla-Mounter said.
"We went to three and won one and that's the thing that you notice.
"In the one that we won we were all very relaxed and took it in our stride, and a lot of those guys have that experience from being there (in 2012) so they will be a lot better this time around."