It started as a cheap economy flight and ended in first class, something the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs experienced in 2018 as well. What Dean Pay and the board have done, however, is instil faith and confidence ahead of what should be a much better 2020 season.
2019 Club Record
Competition Points: 22
2019 Player Achievements
Dr George Peponis Player of the Year: Will Hopoate
Most Tries: Reimis Smith (12)
Most Points: Nick Meaney (88)
Every team in the competition thrives for excellence. I wouldn’t say the Bulldogs were counting their chickens before they hatched, however they certainly had high hopes working towards a finals berth with their roster and rebuild.
The main goal, as Dean Pay says, is top be a competitive top four team. They admit it will take time, but the tough patches the club are currently going through will help them in the long run.
Reimis Smith, Nick Meaney, Jack Cogger and Lachlan Lewis have gone from untapped rookies to first grade players bearing enormous potential. Same too has Renouf To’omaga who has a chance to become the club’s new cult hero with his Mason-like fro and dominating figure.
Once the back ended contract dramas are over (at the end of 2020) and the club spend the wealth of money they will have for 2021, these players will be seasoned and all the better for their tough initiations to the big time.
They’ve began a roster turn over by releasing eight players, re-signing a few and bringing in Dean Britt and Joe Stimson – two utility forwards who arrive with massive wraps from Wayne Bennett and Craig Bellamy respectively – and Tonga’s hooker Sione Katoa with more rumoured before the pre-season starts.
The Bulldogs had a tough run with injuries to their highest paid player Kieran Foran and boy did they miss him when he was gone. He steered them to many victories at the back end of the year, proving just how valuable he is when he could lace up the boots.
While many fans will be furious at some of the team selections and performances throughout the year, the bottom line is that the club did a great job building towards a better future – and 2020 looks their most promising in several years.
NothingButLeague Player of the Season
Will Hopoate: Rightly named the top Dog by the club, Hopoate was extraordinary in everything he did. His working runs from dummy half out of the red zone, his versatility to cover a range of positions in the back line and his sleek hands – which are arguably the best in the competition – were invaluable to a struggling pack early on and a key reason the team won seven of their last 10 games.
2020 GAINS AND LOSSES
Dean Britt (South Sydney Rabbitohs, 2021), Sione Katoa (Penrith Panthers, 2021), Joe Stimson (Melbourne Storm, 2022)
Fa’amanu Brown (released), Danny Fualalo (released), Connelly Leumelu (North Queensland Cowboys), Michael Lichaa (released), Rhyse Martin (Leeds Rhinos), John Olive (released), Zac Saddler (Manly Sea Eagles), Francis Tualau (Brisbane Broncos)