At the halfway point of the season, the Bulldogs are languishing at the bottom of the ladder, and having recently sacked coach Trent Barrett, season 2022 is essentially written off by the Bulldogs.
With no definitive direction or head coach for 2023, interim coach Mick Potter has a golden opportunity to explore some “what-ifs” and “maybes” in the Bulldogs' squad.
Traditionally, teams in similar positions have blooded rookies and dropped those not in future plans, with significant selection pressure motivating incumbents to work hard to earn their next contracts.
With general manager Phil Gould and Barrett having recently overhauled the roster and with major signings on the way next season, Potter has full control of a still relatively new squad, and should start making some creative changes, perhaps even enhancing his reputation as an NRL coach along the way, with the Bulldogs, Tigers and Warriors jobs still vacant.
1. Matt Burton to fullback
In the modern game, a fullback being the dominant kicker is rare and valuable, freeing up the halves to pass and focus on short kicking as well as generally directing play.
Matt Burton’s long kicking game has been among the best in the NRL but has struggled with his short kicking game and with injecting himself into the game.
A potential Burton move to fullback could enhance his game, allowing him more time on the ball, the freedom to play on both sides of the field and giving him more opportunity to take advantage of his greatest strength: his running game.
There is no reason why he couldn’t continue to regularly kick from yardage as a fullback. With his best career football having been played at centre for the Panthers, Burton could combine his running game with his skills as a half to become one of the NRL’s most influential players.
Jake Averillo's best position is centre and Matt Dufty's woes at fullback in 2022, as well as his potential departure from the club at season's end, create a clear vacancy at the back for the Bulldogs for Matt Burton.