SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JULY 07: Bulldogs players show their dejection after a Raiders try during the round 17 NRL match between the Canterbury Bulldogs and the Canberra Raiders at Belmore Sports Ground on July 7, 2018 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Brett Hemmings/Getty Images)

The Bulldogs enter the 2019 season with a squad that arguably isn’t as good as the side that struggled in 2018.

Can they do enough to avoid the dreaded wooden spoon?

2019 Gains

Jack Cogger (Newcastle Knights, 2020), Christian Crichton (Penrith Panthers, 2021), Corey Harawira-Naera (Penrith Panthers, 2022), Morgan Harper (2019), Tui Katoa (2019), Nick Meaney (Newcastle Knights, 2021), Dylan Napa (Sydney Roosters, 2021), James Roumanos (Cronulla Sharks, 2021), Chris Smith (Sydney Roosters, 2020), Sauaso Sue (Wests Tigers, 2020)

2019 Losses

Lachlan Burr (New Zealand Warriors), Greg Eastwood (released), Asipeli Fine (released), Matt Frawley (Huddersfield Giants), David Klemmer (Newcastle Knights), Moses Mbye (Wests Tigers), Brett Morris (Sydney Roosters), Josh Morris (Cronulla Sharks), Clay Priest (released), Aaron Woods (Cronulla Sharks), Zac Woolford (Newcastle Knights)

2018 Recap

The Dogs had a poor 2018 on and off the field. Fans won’t need reminding but past decisions have made recruitment very, very difficult. Dogs fans must be sick of seeing star players leave the club.

The Dogs best efforts came toward the end of the season on the back of young players like Lewis and Marshall-King. Rhyse Martin was a huge find in 2018 and has become a star.

Big signings Foran and Woods failed to fire, with Woods moving on. They’ve made a lot of difficult decisions in order to free up cap space moving forward. 2018 won’t be fondly remembered.

Their NSW Cup side did manage to win the national title though.

Best Recruit: Dylan Napa

Napa has been in the news over the weekend for strange off-field reasons, but we’ll focus on the footy here. That said, it’s disrupted the pre-season of the Dogs big name forward recruit.

Coming in for the Newcastle-bound David Klemmer, Napa will be expected to step in as the pack leader. He’s going to have to play bigger minutes than during his time in the tri-coloured jersey.

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Napa has huge boots to fill and arrives on big money and a big profile. The Maroons firebrand has plenty of upside and should provide plenty of aggression in both attack and defence.

Future Star/One To Watch: Nick Meaney

Much was expected of the young number one for his former club Newcastle. Unfortunately he was stuck behind a little someone names Kayln Ponga so a move to the Dogs makes a lot of sense.

He is the most likely to start the season in the fullback role, and that’s an exciting prospect for Dogs fans.

Meaney showed plenty in his short stint at the back for the Knights before his off-season switch. He scored a few tries and even kicked a goal in his five NRL appearances.

While Hoppoate may shift into the one, I’m convinced that his best role is in the centres. For mine Meaney deserves an early shot in the custodian role. He has huge upside.

Star Player: Kieran Foran

I’ll likely cop grief in the comments for this but there really is no denying that Kieran Foran holds the keys to any potential Dogs run to the finals.

He was very poor in 2018, suffering form form and injuries, but the Premiership winning number six is a class act and still capable of amazing things on his day.

There were glimpses in 2018 where it looked as though the Sea Eagle version of Foran may be on his way back, but he just didn’t produce it enough to prove return on investment.

The Dogs found two pretty handy halves in the back end of last season so the pressure will be on the big money former Kiwi half, and rightly so. For the Dogs to feature in the finals race they need their star number six fit and firing.

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Recruitment Grade: D

The Dogs hands are still tied re their salary cap due to some horror decisions made by previous management. They’ve not only lost the likes of Woods and Mbye, but they’ve lost both Morris boys, Eastwood and Klemmer.

Napa and CWH are big ins and should round out a pretty handy forward pack, but they’ve brought in fringe reserve graders otherwise. I say that with the greatest of respect but it’s factual.

Meaney is a clever in, as is Cogger, yet neither are going to set the competition alight and take the Dogs to a finals spot on the back of their performances.

The Dogs are relying on value signings and their talented NSW Cup winning squad to fill their squad.

Prediction: 15th

The Dogs enter the 2019 season with a squad that arguably isn’t as good as the side that struggled in 2018.

David Klemmer is a huge out. He was the heart and soul of that club. His replacement is a pretty handy player, but Klemmer had something special.

Their recruitment has not been good. They simply did not have the funds available to go out and throw a million dollars at a future changing rep star recruit.

There is plenty of talent in this squad, while Dean Pay has proven himself to be a clever coach. He provided plenty of positives in 2018 despite their never being in a position to play finals footy.

The Dogs will provide nuisance value in 2018 and will beat some big name sides on their day, but I just can’t see enough points in this outfit to string together wins.

Always happy to be proven wrong, but the points just aren’t there, especially if Foran doesn’t come back in similar form that saw him take Manly to a title.

11 COMMENTS

  1. It will be a close battle for the spoon this year between Parra, Manly and the Dogs. I think the Dogs will do just enough to secure it.

  2. I do like how pretty much everyone is writing off the Dogs but to an extent I can see why after all the rubbish that has happened the last few years. I honestly think the Dogs can surprise people and can make something out of this season but they need that form from the end of 2018 but to have it the vast majority of this year. If Foran can get things going and combines well with Lewis and Meaney, they can potentially grab maybe 8th spot at best or they might miss out finishing 9th-11th. Definitely won’t be near the spoon and the bottom 4 though

  3. I think this year will be a huge turning point for the NRL. The once strong Bulldogs, Parra and Manly (I go back to the 80โ€™s & 90โ€™s) are really going to struggle. Pressure to seriously look at teams in Sydney in terms of profitability, crowds, membership, etc. No offence to the fans of these clubs, but I think they are under real threat. I think teams in regional areas (Newcastle, Townsville, Illawarra, Penrith) or heavily supported NRL areas (Melbourne, Gold Coast, NZ) will do well this year. Roosters and Rabbits will make the cut.

    • Whilst you may be right in terms of on field performance in 2019, and I’ll come back to that, but I think Parra is very different off field. We have a very strong member base, top 3 or 4, and let’s face it, that’s through a period of decades of underperformance on field, a new stadium, the Leagues club etc.
      On field for 2019, and we are extremely reliant on Moses, and I’m hopeful, but nervous, and possibly/probably, a few rookies making a somewhat seem less transition to FG, as are the other 2 clubs you mentioned. That said, we still have around $800k so if, IF, we can get a gun hooker, or to a lesser extent centre or another big forward at this stage, that will certainly help.
      I think the Dogs look like the serious contenders for the spoon, and I’m not saying Parra won’t be in the mix, but I don’t think we will.
      I think Manly are potentially pretty strong contenders for the spoon, in that they don’t need much to go wrong to be front runners. It’s pretty slim pickings in their centres/wingers, especially if Walker gets suspended, and the bench is very average, assuming they run their key forwards in the top 13. So points are going to be heavily reliant on Turbo, and probably DCE or Api over their wingers/centres. I think a decent length injury to either Turbo or DCE (Api can be covered by their young hooker) would make Manly front runners for the spoon.

    • Suechi you really need to check your figures.
      In terms of memberships, Parra are 3rd behind South’s and the donkeys. The dogs aren’t far behind us. You then go on to say Storm, Titans and Warriors are heavily supported where as in fact they have some of the lowest membership numbers in the comp.
      I can tell you now there are a lot of other teams that would go before Parra do.

  4. Redv13 – probably right there mate. Havenโ€™t been out that way for many a year. I guess thatโ€™s the issue, Sydney morphing into one, with traditional suburbs struggling for identity.

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