Kyle Flanagan's path back to first-grade looks to be unclear, with Canterbury Bulldogs coach Cameron Ciraldo admitting he was happy with the performances of Matt Burton, Josh Reynolds and debutant Karl Oloapu during a tight win over the St George Illawarra Dragons on Sunday in Wollongong.

Flanagan was axed heading into the game just a week after he swapped roles with Matt Burton, allowing the New South Wales representative to take the number seven jumper and halfback role.

That left Flanagan wearing the number six, but that lasted just a week.

Instead, Josh Reynolds started against the Dragons, with young gun Oloapu, who signed with the club from the Brisbane Broncos during the off-season coming off the bench to replace Reynolds.

Ciraldo said he was happy with Oloapu's debut after some impressive touches during the second half, and suggested it won't be just a one-week play.

"I'm really happy for Karl that he got to have his debut and experience a win in a really special win at that," Ciraldo said.

"I think he did pretty well tonight and I'm keen to keep exploring that with him.

"We were never going to throw him in for one week, and no matter what, he has come here to go on a journey with us, and we are excited about where that journey can go.

"He is going to learn a lot out of tonight as well. We are going to help him through that process and it's going to be a roller-coaster for him but we have a good club and good people around him to support him."

Ciraldo said Burton's second game in the number seven jersey saw him continue to grow in the role, while Reynolds did exactly what was required in starting off the game.

"I think Burto [Matt Burton] is growing in that role every week. I think Grub [Josh Reynolds] started the game for us, the way he set up the game. He knew he was only going to play the first 30 minutes in the halves and he was really unselfish about that. He understood it was his job to turn the game into a Bulldogs' style of game for us, and he certainly did things to help that," Ciraldo said.

"I think that's the first time Karl and Burto have played together. We will be a little bit rusty at times, but they will get better with every training session and every game they get."

The Bulldogs will take on the Canberra Raiders on a five-day turnaround in the opening game of magic round.