Matt Attard reviews the 2022 Season of the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs, where they finished twelfth on the ladder.
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Signs of Fight for the Blue and White
What started as a season of promise, with new recruits Matt Burton, Josh Addo-Carr and Tevita Pangai Jnr (not to mention Matt Dufty and Paul Vaughan), quickly turned to mud despite a clear sign that the club is heading in the right direction.
While there were signs of fight and heart from the blue and white, they never could gel as a team. Whether that was due to the coaching style or not, it ended with the departure of coach Trent Barrett.
In stepped interim coach Mick Potter, who rejuvenated a solid playing roster and finally had the team showcasing competitive attacking football. They scored plenty of points after Potter took control, including a big win over heavyweights Parramatta. Potter will stay on at the club in 2023, such was the impression he made on the playing group and stakeholders of the club.
By the end of the season, Burton and Addo-Carr had formed a lethal combination on the left edge, Max King put his hand up for representative football, young gun Jacob Kiraz came out of nowhere to secure a first grade contract and put his name on the map, while foundations continued to he laid off the field by general manager of football Phil Gould, chairman John Khoury, and CEO Aaron Warburton.
No doubt the room for improvement is immense, but as Warburton points out, the future looks bright.
“We finished the season with seven wins. It’s hard to set our expectations for such a successful club, but is seven wins good enough? No, but there are signs we’re on the right path to success,” said Warburton.
“We’re very willing to undertake the hard work behind the scenes that fans won’t see. It’s getting the right pathway systems and attracting the right athletes. It all starts with people.
“We’ve been able to attract the right people on and off the field. We share our vision and that attracts people to the club.”
Attract they did. Fans can be excited for what lay ahead with new coach Cameron Ciraldo and grand final stars Viliame Kikau and Reed Mahoney joining the club along with rising star Franklin Pele (Sharks), English international Ryan Sutton (Raiders), Roosters Jersey Flegg captain Jacob Preston, and one of the games brightest hooking prospects in 21-year-old Brandon Clarke (QLD Cup).
“Cameron did his research, he had a number of options including staying at Penrith,” Warburton said.
“He can see our vision and we’ve been able to show him that he can add that leadership to the club to help ensure we’re a successful club in all grades on and off the field.”
NothingButLeague Bulldogs Player of 2022: Matt Burton (12)Embed from Getty Images
Try Assists: 16
Kick Metres: 10,240
Other Points: 11 Josh Addo-Carr; 4 Luke Thompson, Tevita Pangai Junior; 3 Jacob Kiraz, Jake Averillo, Max King; 1 Aaron Schoupp, Declan Casey, Jeremy Marshall-King, Matt Dufty, Paul Vaughan, Raymond Faitala-Mariner.