Canterbury star Josh Reynolds has defended the club's decision not to play both him and David Klemmer on day one of the NRL Auckland Nines.
After crashing out of finals contention with two group losses on Saturday, nines captain Reynolds and Klemmer finally made their first appearance in a dead rubber on Sunday.
But their return failed to prevent the Bulldogs crashing to a 28-4 loss to Cronulla, with Reynolds later explaining why he was a scratching the day prior at Eden Park.
It was reported the key pair had to play otherwise the club would've been forced to forfeit their $110,000 cheque for participating in the event.
"I think it's a good opportunity for the young guys to have a game. We're obviously going to play in the NRL week to week and the young guys, sometimes it's hard for them," Reynolds told AAP.
"I've played premier league, you don't really get to show yourself sometimes because you're playing at the park or whatever. I don't necessarily think it's a bad thing.
"I know where the fans are coming from in some ways. You don't want to lose in any game. But Des is the boss and whatever he says goes."
The Bulldogs finished last in their group without a win, bringing their overall record in the shortened format to just three victories from 12 games since the event's inception in 2014.
They lost their day one match-ups to Penrith 28-18, and Gold Coast 17-10, and while Reynolds said their efforts simply weren't up to scratch, took solace in some positives.
"Honestly, we lost the games and it's not good enough," he said.
"But a couple of guys shone I reckon. The fact that now that there's a bit of confidence for them, they can do it with the big boys. It's a good thing, a great thing for them."