DESSY’S Dogs have their tails between their legs, struggling to outplay the last-placed Newcastle Knights and looking abysmal in almost every other game this season. So what’s the problem?
The team, on paper, is strong. There are rep players scattered throughout, so perhaps it is Hasler’s game plan and coaching style.
If I had to pinpoint an area the club are lacking, it’s the halves. The team can’t score points, we all know this, and that starts with your halves.
Don’t get me wrong. Moses Mbye is a great player. He is very fast, has excellent skills, but his kicking games and organisational skills leave a hell of a lot to be desired.
When he was suspended earlier in the season, Frawley replaced him at halfback and the team performed differently. Finally they were getting some repeat sets, looked more fluent in attack and seemed to have some direction.
They defeated the Broncos and Newcastle, as well as Souths in Mbye’s return game, but Frawley was selected on the bench.
The following week, Mbye started the game at halfback and Frawley barely saw the field. They lost to the lowly Tigers.
To put it simply – selecting Mbye at halfback is a terrible choice, yet one that Hasler makes week in and week out.
This season, Mbye has started all but two games at halfback for a total of 4 try assists, 2 tries and 108 kicks.
In just a handful of 80 minute performances, Frawley has produced 2 try assists, 3 tries and 96 kicks. What does that show you?
Hasler’s stubborn and it shows. It showed when we let Frank Pritchard go in favour of the failure that was Tony Williams, as well as the decision to let Michael Ennis leave.
In fact, Ennis has said he was leashed at the Bulldogs and told to play to a strict plan that Hasler wanted, or else.
It seems stubborn Hasler has put the foot down in many areas in 2017. And it’s been happening for over a year now.
Former under 20s Origin star Michael Lichaa, who was signed to the club on decent money to replace Ennis, was once an attacking dynamo and has shown tiny glimpses when he’s run the ball, now looks confused and worn out.
Josh Morris was once the games premier centre. He also seems out of touch. As does Sam Kasiano, James Graham (whose brilliant ball skills seem to be non-existent these days) and to an extent David Klemmer, who has offloaded more in Origin than he has all season for the Bulldogs.
It all points to poor management and coaching by Hasler, and a spate of poor selection choices.
There is a young guy in NSW Cup, Josh Cleeland, who is perhaps the most genuine half on the clubs roster. Frawley is a decent halfback, but this kid is a real talent in both the 6 and the 7 jerseys. I’m surprised he hasn’t been given a shot.
This brings me to Josh Reynolds. I love the bloke. Every Bulldogs fan loves the bloke. Just look at the scenes at Belmore when the club scraped home against Newcastle.
Amongst the emotion, fans seem to forget that Reynolds is not a world beater. In fact, he is nothing more than an average half who has a genuine love for the Bulldogs.
The way he plays is fantastic, but you need more than passion to win a game of football. He was offered overs to go to the Tigers, $750k a season compared to the $500k at the Bulldogs.
To me, $500k is way too much for a player of Reynolds calibre. A player who has mustered up only 9 try assists and 6 tries in the last two seasons.
Foran will offset that loss and then some. The arrival of Foran and exciting utility Fa’amanu Brown from Cronulla is exciting for the club.
Foran is an excellent half, an organiser and a leader – just what the club needs in the seven jersey.
The decision to let Kasiano leave, given the arrival of Woods who is, by the way, a brilliant signing, is another great decision.
A club legend sure, but ‘Dogzilla’ is prone to far too many errors (34 in two seasons) and dumb plays. The bad severely outweighs the good.
I have it on good authority that Kasiano was making closer to a million dollars a season than half a million, and with interchanges to reduce in the coming season, the big mans lack of minutes is a real killer.
In conclusion, it’s time for Des to put his ego away, select players in the right positions, and tweak his game plan.
Otherwise, I’d be getting rid of him and, in a perfect world, be bringing in clubman Dean Pay, the current assistant coach at the Raiders.
My ideal 2018 line up:
- Will Hopoate
- Brett Morris
- Josh Morris
- Chase Stanley/Brenko Lee (depending on whether Stanley re-signs or not)
- Marcelo Montoya
- Josh Cleeland
- Kieran Foran
- Aaron Woods
- Moses Mbye
- James Graham
- David Klemmer
- Josh Jackson
- Aiden Tolman
- Adam Elliot
- Raymond Faitala-Mariner
- Francis Tualau
- Fa’amanu Brown