For the second time this season, Drew Hutchison will wear the number seven jersey at the Bulldogs for Round 2 after edging out teammate Toby Sexton out of the halfback spot.

Partnering with Matt Burton in the halves, Hutchison will aim to improve from last week after the club's disappointing loss to rivals Parramatta Eels. Hutchison's statistics saw him make 24 tackles, run 72 metres and make 36 passes.

Making his club debut last weekend, the 28-year-old has never previously been a club's first-choice halfback since being named in the NRL's 2014 Under-20's Team of the Year for the Dragons.

However, the honour of being awarded the number seven jersey and backing from Cameron Ciraldo sees him edge out teammate Toby Sexton for the key attacking position.

Although the season has just begun, the two players will continue to battle for the halfback spot throughout the season.

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"He's a champion bloke. The way that people word it, you're battling for a position, but you come to training every day, and we're making each other better, and that's the best thing," Hutchison said about his relationship with Toby Sexton.

"He's such a great fella, and you get to work with him, but you also compete against him, and it's a good way to approach a pre-season and keeps you on your toes and sort of perform your best every day."

Drew Hutchison also discussed the combination he has with five-eighth Matt Burton.

"You've seen the sort of physical attributes that he has, and he's still only so young," he added.

"I think everyone can see the attributes that he has and it's exciting."

NRL Pre-Season Challenge Rd 1 - Bulldogs v Storm
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - FEBRUARY 15: Bronson Xerri of the Bulldogs runs the ball during the NRL Pre-season challenge match between Canterbury Bulldogs and Melbourne Storm at Belmore Sports Ground on February 15, 2024 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Brendon Thorne/Getty Images)

As Hutchison locks down the halfback spot, Bronson Xerri has been overlooked yet again to play his first NRL game since 2019.

Cameron Ciraldo has decided to keep the same back-line that competed in Round 1, with the only change being Connor Tracey making his club debut for the injured Josh Addo-Carr

Xerri has been named as the 18th man for the clash and could be a late replacement if Ciraldo decides to make a late change in the lead-up to the game on Friday evening.

"He's impressive. He's just an athlete himself. It's pretty impressive and just the way he's sort of adapted," Hutchison added when asked about the boom centre.

"A lot's changed since his last stint in the game but the way that he sort of adapts to everything and he listens, he loves to learn and just his willingness to sort of take on information has been unreal.

"He's a bit of a full package.

"He's got beautiful silky hands as well so it's great to play alongside him and I think everyone's just really happy that the way he sort of came back and attacked the games."