Matt Attard review’s Canterbury-Bankstown disastrous 2021: with just three wins and the wooden spoon.
2021 Club RecordEmbed from Getty Images
Competition Points: 8
2021 Player AchievementsEmbed from Getty Images
Most Tries: Nick Meaney (10)
Most Points: Nick Meaney (50)
Abysmal, disastrous, horrendous … take your pick. Any of these words could be used to describe the Bulldogs season which saw new coach Trent Barrett’s young squad collect the wooden spoon.
Although you could also include the word “courageous” alongside it, there is no hiding the fact they were extremely disappointing. Coming into round one there were hopes – not high hopes – that the club would lift itself off the bottom of the ladder from season 2020 where they narrowly avoided last spot.
They had recruited some solid players such as Nick Cotric, Corey Allen, Kyle Flanagan, and Jack Hetherington. Unfortunately, all failed to fire on the back of a squad full of inexperience. What no one is denying is that the club were – and still are – going through a major rebuild, but they still did not expect to collect the wooden spoon.
No one was expecting miracles, but a horror injury and suspension run coupled with apparent in-fighting on the old board led to some major changes both on and off the football field, but they now appear united as the club makes huge strides towards a much improved future.
While 2021 saw many young players debut, including recently re-signed Bailey Biondi-Odo and monster forward Chris Patolo – both of whom played first grade straight out of Jersey Flegg – fans can take solace in knowing such players will be better equipped for first grade come 2022 and beyond.
Jake Averillo has been dubbed a future star by many in the game and he was impressive, being thrust into the halves position all season long. He developed his game well and will be looking to secure the halfback spot in 2022, if not a shift back to the centres/wing.
Aaron Schoupp played 13 games at centre: at just 19 years of age when he debuted he’s one to keep an eye on. Another highlight was the club’s first win of the season in round seven. The gritty 18-12 win over Cronulla-Sutherland reduced Barrett to tears after what was a tumultuous start to the season.
While not much went right on the field, it certainly went well off it. All Black coaching royalty Steve Hansen has joined the club as a consultant while one of rugby league’s greatest minds, Phil Gould, was signed towards the end of the season as the general manager of football. His impact was immediate, helping to secure the signatures of several key recruits.
Speaking of recruits, there are many of them. The club will welcome no less than eight new players while farewelling 13 of their 2021 roster.
Joining the blue and whites in 2022 will be Josh Addo-Carr, Matt Burton, Brent Naden, Matt Dufty, Paul Vaughan, Tevita-Pangai Junior, John Asiata, and Josh Cook (the understudy to South Sydney and NSW Blues hooker Damien Cook).
Bulldogs fans certainly have reason to smile ahead of the 2022 season. Their new-look roster should be enough to challenge for a top eight spot.
NothingButLeague Player of the Season – Josh JacksonEmbed from Getty Images
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