Pool: Waiheke Pool (Sharks, Titans, Panthers, Bulldogs)
Squad: Josh Reynolds (c), Brad Abbey, Tom Carr, Matt Frawley, Danny Fualalo, Craig Garvey, Kerrod Holland, Sam Kasiano, David Klemmer, Lachlan Lewis, Michael Lichaa, Rhyse Martin, D'Rhys Miller, Marcelo Montoya, Tyrone Phillips, Reimis Smith, Renouf To'omaga, Francis Tualau
vs Penrith Panthers (10:25am Feb 4 AEDT)
vs Gold Coast Titans (2:20pm Feb 4 AEDT)
vs Cronulla Sharks (8:35am Feb 5 AEDT)
Pressure on Des Hasler has been mounting since the Bulldogs bowed out of the 2016 season on the back of four straight losses, so it’s no surprise that Hasler would have his eyes on the regular season instead of the Nines, though it hasn’t stopped him from naming a couple of key players.
Josh Reynolds will captain the side, with the five-eighth looking to reimage himself from the man known as ‘grub’ by teammates into a fully-fledged leader of the club. With a big troupe of youngsters at the Nines, many new to the club, Reynolds will have the chance to make himself a leader in the eyes of the youngsters, a fresh start.
Rep forwards Sam Kasiano and Dave Klemmer are set to skittle defenders at the Nines, though it could monster prop Francis Tualau who makes the biggest splash at the Nines. Standing at 187cm tall and tipping the scales at 106kg, the Melbourne junior could use the tournament to springboard his way into a first-grade spot.
Who To Watch: Sam Kasiano. The man has dropped nearly 10 kilos this summer, which is only going to make him even more of an asset in the Nines. Despite being 120kg, Kasiano has all the key attributes of a halfback with his passing game especially impressive. One of Josh Reynolds best features is his support play, so if he can run off Kasiano all game, then Canterbury will score some sneaky tries.
Why They Can Win: The forwards. Kasiano, Klemmer and Tualau weight 350kgs between the three of them, and all have a handy offload to them as well. Young forwards Danny Fualalo, Rhyse Martin and Renouf To’omaga also have their chance to impress, and with Reynolds and co buzzing around them, the forwards could have an absolute field day.
Why They Can’t Win: Organisation. The Bulldogs rely heavily on their power game in the NRL, making up for a lack of organisation in the squad. While Moses Mbye and Josh Reynolds are good halves in their own right, they’re both very similar in their nature – off the cuff, play what they see, but they don’t set up plays awfully well. That’s why they struggled to score points in 2016, and why they’ll struggle to score points this weekend.
Prediction: Canterbury have the makings of a good team in their squad, but lack that quality halfback to tie it all together. Klemmer and Kasiano will do their job and make sure the Dogs are in the opposition 20, but that’s where they struggle the most. Canterbury can’t rely on off the cuff magic all weekend, they’ll make a few highlights, but they won’t leave the pool stage.