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Dogs debutant stretchered off after sickening hit

The NRL career of Bulldogs debutant Declan Casey began on a sickening note when the youngster was knocked out by a monstrous Andrew Fifita run on Saturday afternoon.

The 22-year-old was stretchered from the field on a medicab in the 52nd minute after Fifita unleashed a legal but brutal hit-up off a kick-off.

The right shoulder of the former Test and State of Origin prop cannoned into Casey’s head at a great force, leaving him motionless on the CommBank Stadium turf in wild weather conditions.

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Bulldogs general manager of football Phil Gould revealed on Twitter that Casey was OK, but the incident left a sour mark on a contest won by the Sharks 18-6.

“Oh no. He’s left some damage in the rear-view mirror. There was some big contact,” said Fox League caller Matt Russell.

“There’s going to be a Bulldog forced out of the game and sadly it’s the debutant, Declan Casey.”

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Legendary Balmain front-rower Steve Roach had praise for both Fifita and Casey.

“That’s the way you run the ball back from a kick after you’ve scored a try,” Roach said of Fifita, whose run followed a Sione Katoa four-pointer. Highlights: Bulldogs v Sharks - Round 16

“He’s a hard man to tackle.

“There’s no lack of courage from the young fella … put yourself out there, a man charging onto the ball like that in Fifita, experienced player, been around for an age, knows how to use his body properly, just have a look how he dipped his shoulder and his hip into Casey. You feel for the young fella, but what a courageous effort.”

Cronulla’s win ended a two-game Canterbury win streak, after the Bulldogs enjoyed a revival in beating the Eels and Wests Tigers.

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