As the start of the 2018 campaign edges closer and closer, we look at how the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs will fair in the coming season.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Aaron Woods (Tigers), Clay Priest (Raiders), Kieran Foran (Warriors), Moses Suli (Tigers), Fa’amanu Brown (Sharks), John Olive (Titans), Jeremy Marshall-King (Tigers), Ofahiki Ogden (Warriors), Mason Cerruto, Jarred Anderson.
Brad Abbey (Raiders), Brenko Lee (Titans), James Graham (Dragons), Craig Garvey (Raiders), Josh Reynolds (Tigers), Sam Kasiano (Storm), Tyrone Phillips (Panthers) Richard Kennar (Rabbitohs), Adam Keighran (Panthers).
Storm (Perth), Roosters (A), Panthers (H), Rabbitohs (A), Raiders (A).
WHAT TO EXPECT
After a disappointing 2017 campaign for the Blue and Whites, they will be looking to bounce back under new head coach Dean Pay. Pay looks to bring back some of the attacking flair that had been lost under former boss Des Hasler, with various shifts in the team and new acquisitions that aim to hoist the Bulldogs into a top-8 finish. Moses Mbye shifts to fullback; that moves Will Hopoate into the centres which should help the Bulldogs edge defense after the departure of the notoriously poor defender, Brenko Lee.
The play of Hooker Michael Lichaa will be very determinant of the club’s success in 2018, he showed off his attacking ability towards the end of last season which kept Canterbury fans optimistic about his potential roles in the side going forward. Dean Pay has been very open with Lichaa about how he wants him to play a more aggressive style of footy in attack. This mindset is already paying off for the Dogs’ rookie head coach after Lichaa opened the scoring in the club’s first trial game against Canberra as he darted over from close range.
New acquisition Kieran Foran will be perhaps the most important man for the Bulldogs this season, he will be relied upon to organise the team in attack, a role which was filled by no-one last year. Although he played second fiddle to Warriors superstar Shaun Johnson in his short stint in Auckland, he still showed at times, that he is more than capable of being the main man. He brings an offensive kicking game that this side has lacked for years under Moses Mbye and now Wests Tiger Josh Reynolds. Aaron Woods joins the club after the departure of captain James Graham, the New South Wales and Australia prop forwards looks to fill the leadership role that Graham vacates and helps solidify an already formidable Bulldogs forward pack.
One of the few teams without a trip to New Zealand this year, the Bulldogs schedule doesn’t feature any particularly difficult stretches; their most difficult part of the season will be the first 3 rounds where they play Melbourne in Perth, the Roosters away and a new look Panthers outfit who they have struggled against in recent times. Coming out of their round 13 bye, the Dogs have a nice 3 week stretch against the Dragons and Titans at home, followed by a trip to Mitchell Pearce’s Newcastle.
Top Tryscorer – Marcelo Montoya
Top Pointscorer – Moses Mbye
Club Player of the Year – Josh Jackson
WHERE WILL THE CANTERBURY-BANKSTOWN BULLDOGS FINISH?