With under a week to go until the NRL kicks off, we lay down an extended preview for each club. Below is a look at the Bulldogs
The Bulldogs looked set for a very distant 16th place finish up until halfway through the season
Incredibly over the last ten or so weeks they were arguably the form team of the competition.
The Dogs main man Keiran Foran just can’t stay on the park long enough to deliver on his enormous talent.
Whenever he was there the Dogs looked the goods. Marshall-King and Lachlan Lewis continued their development.
Ultimately avoiding the spoon was a success and the last two months of footy and results were a real bonus.
Predicted Best Player: Dallin Watene-Zelezniak
I’m still not entirely sure why the Panthers let the former Kiwi captain and utility go but the Dogs won’t care.
He made a real difference after his arrival at Belmore and will almost certainly build upon his encouraging start after a full off-season in the system.
DWZ was poised for a monster 2019 but a move back to the wing completely wasted his talents.
The Dogs number one is his and I am very excited to see what he can produce in his now full-time role.
Predicted Top Scorer: Reimis Smith
I fully admit I originally laughed when I heard Smith proclaim he was the fastest player in the league.
Fast forward a few weeks and he’s definitely in the discussion.
Smith is a wonderful talent and will see plenty of ball this year. I don’t expect it to rain tries just yet but he should push 12/13 four pointers.
With all due respect to the signings arriving at Belmore, I can’t see a huge shift too quickly.
Joe Stimson is a solid pick up and should come off the bench in round one. Sione Katoa is another bench option but won’t surpass Marshall-King for the 9 jersey.
Dean Britt rounds out the new arrivals who are in the running for a bench spot.
2020 Final Position: 14th
The Bulldogs are an extremely difficult team to predict. On paper they lack the star power of the big sides but they boast plenty of talent.
Lachlan Lewis is a special talent and should improve again. I really hope For an can refund fitness well before his scheduled return.
DWZ is a weapon, Okunbor and Smith will score plenty of tries. Will Hopoate is possibly the most underrated and underappreciated player in the competition.
Unfortunately Hoppa has been shifted positions but I believe his best spot is in the centres.
Up front the Dogs have Napa, Elliott and Tolman in the middle and CHN and Jackson out wide. That’s a pretty incredible starting pack.
Unfortunately there are worries at 6, 9 and the bench.
Marshall King is a great talent but has a long way to go in the hooker role.
Cogger is the front runner at 6 but surely Brandon Wakeham is the better option?
Out wide they have to decide whether Smith plays center or wing. Does Holland return or do they to with Meaney?
I just don’t see enough here to trouble the big boys on a weekly basis.
Considering the cap strife they were in I believe they’ve made some really smart decisions.
Backing Dean Pay worked very well toward the end of the season. The young nucleus of DWZ, Marshall King and Lewis is best for the club.
They’re building nicely but it’s a huge ask to expect this squad to feature come finals time.