2023 Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs Preview

It’s been a rough few years for Canterbury faithful but there’s reason for optimism heading into season 2023.

Preview

SQUAD

Andrew Davey, Bailey Biondi-Odo, Braidon Burns, Brandon Clarke, Christopher Patolo, Corey Waddell, Declan Casey, Fa’amanu Brown, Franklin Pele, Hayze Perham, Jackson Topine, Jacob Kiraz, Jacob Preston, Jake Averillo, Jayden Okunbor, Jeral Skelton, Josh Addo Carr, Josh Reynolds, Kyle Flanagan, Luke Thompson, Matt Burton, Max King, Paul Alamoti, Raymond Faitala-Mariner, Reed Mahoney, Ryan Sutton, Sam Hughes, Tevita Pangai Junior, Viliame Kikau, Karl Oloapu, Isaac Matalavea-Booth, Iverson Matai, Jordan Samrani, Joseph O’Neill. Coach: Cameron Ciraldo. (as at February 11)

BEST SEVENTEEN

1. Hayze Perham, 2. Jacob Kiraz, 3. Jake Averillo, 4. Paul Alamoti, 5. Josh Addo-Carr, 6. Matt Burton, 7. Kyle Flanagan, 8. Luke Thompson, 9. Reed Mahoney, 10. Tevita Pangai Junior, 11. Viliame Kikau, 12. Ray Faitala-Mariner, 13. Max King, 14. Nu Brown, 15. Franklin Pele, 16. Ryan Sutton, 17. Jacob Preston.

BEST SIGNING

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Many will say Viliame Kikau however I’m going to say the best signing for Ciraldo’s men is newly appointed captain and former Bulldog junior Reed Mahoney.

The Bulldogs have been missing a class representative hooker since Michael Ennis and what Mahoney will bring to the team will be extremely important towards their push for a finals berth.

KEY PLAYER

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Matt Burton without a doubt. The star playmaker with the biggest boot in the game will be the key to success or failure.

If he stays fit and can strike a combination with Kikau and Josh Addo-Carr on the left edge it would be one of the most potent sides in the game. His ability to dictate play is more important to this team than the current halfback, with no disrespect to Kyle Flanagan.

PLAYER TO WATCH

Jacob Preston is a young gun with massive wraps. So massive that he could very well snare a starting spot in the back row for round one.

He is a former Sydney Roosters lower grade captain and from all reports has been training the house down. He’s naturally strong and skilful with a bucket load of heart.

PREVIEW

After many years at the bottom of the ladder the Bulldogs look primed to begin their ascent.

Several new players, headed by Viliame Kikau and Reed Mahoney, as well as new coach Cameron Ciraldo has optimism high. But they still lack in some areas.

They have a potent forward pack and a strong backline however fullback and halfback are an issue. One of those will be solved in 2024 when Stephen Crichton dons the number one.

Halfback is a key position and while they may have pulled out of the race for Mitchell Moses there doesn’t seem to be any quick answers in the seven jersey.

Kyle Flanagan is a solid option, but he’ll need a huge 2023 to convince people he deserves a new contract.

It’s easy to see the Bulldogs creeping in to the top eight if injuries are kind and combinations settle quickly, but the more realistic position would be 10th or thereabouts.

Depth will be tested at times throughout the year, and they don’t appear to have that in spades just yet. Make no mistake they’re building to something big, but that will take more than one off season.

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