NRL Rd 18 - Rabbitohs v Bulldogs
GOLD COAST, AUSTRALIA - JULY 18: Bailey Biondi-Odo of the Bulldogs celebrates a try during the round 18 NRL match between the South Sydney Rabbitohs and the Canterbury Bulldogs at Cbus Super Stadium, on July 18, 2021, in Gold Coast, Australia. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

The Canterbury Bulldogs are set to end their affiliation with Mounties and bring reserve grade operations back in house from 2023.

That will follow a busy 2022 season where their reserve grade players split their time between the Mounties set up, and the club's own team which will return to the New South Wales Cup for the season ahead, according to a Daily Telegraph report.

The decision to revive the Bulldogs at reserve grade level follows the arrival of Phil Gould at the club in a director of football capacity.

The Bulldogs are coming off a wooden spoon season and are desperate to return up the ladder in 2022 following a full slate of ten off-season signings, including talented stars like Matt Burton, Matt Dufty, Josh Addo-Carr, Tevita Pangai Junior and Paul Vaughan.

Melbourne Storm Training Session
SUNSHINE COAST, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 29: Josh Addo-Carr looks to pass during a Melbourne Storm NRL training session at Sunshine Coast Stadium on September 29, 2020 in Sunshine Coast, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

The decision to remove reserve grade back in house is seen as a move to have a far superior pathways system to the one which is currently in place and split with the Mounties group.

Mounties were formerly linked with the Canberra Raiders prior to 2019 when the Bulldogs took over as the group's feeder team. The Raiders have also gone it alone since that time.

The blue and white have not made it clear whether the partnership with Mounties, or their own reserve grade team, will be prioritised when it comes to talent for the 2022 campaign, however, the Queensland teams are all linked with multiple reserve grade teams in the Queensland Cup which allows them to have a greater pool of talent in their pathways system.

“Bringing back our reserve grade side to Belmore is something that was very important to both the board and all of our fans, and we are delighted that we have been able to achieve this for next season,” Bulldogs chairman John Khoury told the publication.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 16: Josh Jackson of the Bulldogs puts a fend on Dale Copley of the Titans during the round 15 NRL match between the Canterbury Bulldogs and the Gold Coast Titans at Belmore Sports Ground on June 16, 2018 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Jason McCawley/Getty Images)

“The decision will be beneficial in that it will allow us to create a full pathway from juniors all the way through to the NRL, and the NSW Cup side will be a vital part of that going forward.

“We have a rich history of success at reserve grade level and that has always flowed through to the NRL.

“Our aim is to create depth and competition, and to return to being a club that develops its own players and brings them through the system.

“We want to return to creating a winning culture here at Belmore, and we believe that this will be another step in the right direction in regard to getting there.

“We will continue to partner with Mounties to provide support for their team in 2022, through the provision of players."

2023 will likely see the Mounties group have to go it alone, or potentially find a new club to partner with. At this stage, the Cronulla Sharks are linked with the Newtown Jets, the Wests Tigers are linked with the Western Suburbs Magpies, the Sydney Roosters have affiliations with the North Sydney Bears, and the Manly Sea Eagles play their reserve grade in line with the Blacktown Workers Club.

QUEANBEYAN, AUSTRALIA - FEBRUARY 27: Joseph Suaalii of the Bears runs the ball during the NSW Cup Trial Match between the North Sydney Bears and the Canberra Raiders at Seiffert Oval on February 27, 2021 in Queanbeyan, Australia. (Photo by Mark Evans/Getty Images)

The Dragons, Panthers, Raiders, Eels, Knights and Rabbitohs all go it alone in reserve grade. The Storm, Broncos, Titans and Cowboys are all linked with the Queensland Cup.

The New Zealand Warriors were also linked with the Queensland Cup through the Redcliffe Dolphins, however, their successful expansion bid means that has now ended, and Mounties could prove the ideal proving ground for the Warriors to return an affiliation in the New South Wales Cup from 2023.