The Bulldogs will be down a man to kickstart their season after Tevita Pangai Junior was ruled out until at least Round 4 with a calf injury.

The Tongan international was a late withdrawal from Canterbury's second trial against the Cronulla Sharks, succumbing to a calf strain suffered at training during the week.

While initially believed Pangai Junior's withdrawal was precautionary to ensure the forward would be right to play Round 1, further assessments have confirmed that the middle forward will miss at least the first three games of the season.

It's a compounding blow for the Bulldogs who have a tough few weeks to start 2023, facing the Sea Eagles, Melbourne and Parramatta to begin the season.

The club also provided updates on new recruits Viliame Kikau and Andrew Davey, both of which left the field with concussions, and failed their respective HIAs.

Both players are expected to line-up against the Manly Sea Eagles in Round 1, a massive boost after losing Pangai Junior through the middle.

The former Bronco had only just nailed down a permanent position in the forward pack.

“Front row is my position,” Pangai Junior told Fox Sports last week.

“I know that's where Cam wants me to play and has given me a simple role — he knows what works for me.

“I think that's the best thing about our coaching staff. They know how their players work and they try and make it as simple as they can for us to just go out and know our role.

“I just have to lead with my actions… carry the ball and keep it simple.”

NRL Trial Match - Sharks v Bulldogs
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - FEBRUARY 28: Tevita Pangai Junior of the Bulldogs is tackled by Andrew Fifita of the Sharks during the NRL Trial Match between the Cronulla Sharks and the Canterbury Bulldogs at PointsBet Stadium on February 28, 2022 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

Max King, Luke Thompson and Ryan Sutton will all start the season in the middle-third for the Bulldogs, however Tevita's injury could open the door for former Sharks' prop Frank Pele.

The 22-year-old amassed 119 metres in just nine runs against Canberra last week as well as a try-assist, however Pele only received a short-stint in their 36-16 loss to Cronulla.