CANBERRA, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 21: Brenko Lee of the Raiders celebrates scoring a try with team mates during the round 24 NRL match between the Canberra Raiders and the Parramatta Eels at GIO Stadium on August 21, 2016 in Canberra, Australia. (Photo by Brett Hemmings/Getty Images)

The Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs have announced that six new players will be joining the club in 2017 and beyond.

Five of the six new faces will join the NRL squad on a full-time basis, while young outside back Tom Carr will train with the NRL squad over the summer.

Rhyse Martin

Townsville Blackhawk back-rower Rhyse Martin has signed a two-year deal with the Canterbury Bulldogs and will make his way to Sydney for pre-season in November. Before joining the Blackhawks, the Proserpine junior had spent time with the Sydney Roosters as their under 20 captain.

During his time with the Blackhawks, Martin’s form has seen him play representative football for the PNG Kumuls and also be awarded Intrust Super Cup Second Rower of the Year honours for season 2016.

Known for his consistency, the young back rower will be hoping to take his game to the next level in 2017.

Brenko Lee

Logan Brothers junior and Raiders outside back Brenko Lee will join the Bulldogs in 2017 on a two-year deal.

Having spent the past six years within the Raiders set-up, Lee will make the move to Belmore after playing 12 NRL games in three seasons. Lee made his NRL debut against the Bulldogs in round 15, 2014 and during his 12 games, Lee has managed to score 11 tries, including four in one game against the Parramatta Eels in round 24 of the 2016 season.

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The talented outside backs’ desire to cement a first-grade spot in the centres influenced his decision to sign a two-year deal with the club. The addition of the 21-year old will strengthen the clubs outside backs stocks with the departure of Sam Perrett and Curtis Rona.

Zac Woolford

Queanbeyan Blues local Junior Zac Woolford will join the Bulldogs through until 2018 on a two-year deal.

Woolford, a hooker makes his way to Belmore following an outstanding season with the Canberra Raiders in 2016 that saw him cause plenty of havoc out of dummy-half for the NSW Blues under 20’s in their 36-22 win over the Maroons. With a strong finish to the year, Woolford was nominated for the Dally M Holden Cup player of the year. A handy goal kicker as well, he finished the 2016 season with 144 points, four tries, 64 conversions, 69% with the boot and 23 line break assists.

Josh Cleeland

The Bulldogs welcome Josh Cleeland to the club on a two-year deal following one season with 2016 NRL Premiers the Cronulla Sharks.

Cleeland joined the Sharks in 2016 after playing an integral role in the premiership winning success of the Ipswich Jets in the 2015 Queensland Cup. Following an impressive Auckland Nines in 2016 and a great season for the Newtown Jets, the Westend Bulldogs will add plenty of depth to the Bulldogs halves in 2017.

Tom Carr

Outside back Tom Carr joins the Bulldogs from the St George Illawarra Dragons on a two-year deal.

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The Helensburgh Tigers junior was elevated to the Dragons NRL squad in 2016 after an impressive 2015 season in the club’s NYC side which saw him score 17 tries in 12 games. An outstanding finisher, who will train with the NRL squad over the summer and will be looking to make the most of his opportunity.

Francis Tualau

Tualau joins the Bulldogs on a three-year deal from 2016 Grand Finalist’s the Melbourne Storm.

A strong running forward with excellent ball skills is a graduate of the Storm under 20’s system, following two seasons in their NYC side. The prop forward arrives at Belmore following two seasons for Easts Tigers in the Intrust Super Cup.

The addition of these six new faces along with a crop of promising young players stepping up over the summer, adds to the stability of the current roster which features Origin, test and plenty of NRL experience.

Adding the likes of Brenko Lee, Zac Woolford and Rhyse Martin to the 2017 squad and beyond follows on from Moses Mbye, David Klemmer and Josh Jackson all committing to the club for a further four years.

“Stability and experience is always important in a roster and we have recruited to bring some youth, like Brenko Lee and Zac Woolford whose early potential will flourish in the Bulldogs environment,” Chief Executive Raelene Castle added.


    • These are good signings for depth mate. The dogs don’t need big name new signings. As Miltontoaster says they just need to give the ball to the backs they’ve got. The forwards can match it with the best.

  1. Struggle City.
    have the forwards play like halves, and have the halves do sweet FA.
    Des will be the first coach to go in ’17

  2. Carr is a decent pick up. I rated him as a junior and still do. Tall winger and quite quick. Brenko Lee is a good edition aswell.

  3. If the dogs decide to pass the ball to their outside backs next year instead of having 4 hit ups out of the 6 plays, Brenko Lee will do really well. Potential star in the making.

    • I take your point about giving the outside backs the ball but don’t most teams play it that way? The difference is the good teams have halves that make better decisions on tackle six.

      • I can’t really talk about all the teams but as a Raiders supporter I can talk about my team. When they were taking hit ups, it was rarely just one out hit ups. They would at least make the defensive line think a little by throwing a face ball to a forward or having Hodgson scheming to draw the markers in before hitting a big forward.

        With Lichaa at hooker, there was no creative plays around the ruck, no threat of him running. Kasiano and Eastwood had a bit of creativity but I found that Graham and especially Tolman just took one out hit ups.

        • Agree about Graham. Last season he didn’t seem to have the options around him. In the past when he has run to the line he has had the short flat ball to another forward, out the back to the halves/fb and usually someone on his inside as well. This year he seemed to be just doing one-out hitups with no support. He’s got nice soft hands for a front rower and he’s an even better decision maker, so it’s a waste using him like a battering ram.

        • Miltontoaster

          I agree also. Graham who is usually a great ball playing forward and skilled at getting a late off load away seemed to just charge forward this year. If I remember correctly he almost never had any support and Lichaa was asleep at hooker (also Hoppa at FB) to present Graham or other forwards any options other than to go to ground with the ball.


          “so it’s a waste using him (Graham) like a battering ram”

          By and large I agree but as one of the Dogs big forwards there are times when players like Graham, Kasiano and Klemmer have to take advantage of their size and charge head long into the defensive line. With their size and strength they can shatter a lot of defences in the middle. They can always look for an off load AFTER making contact at full charge.

          I’ve also seen the Dogs successfully play 1 of these big 3 off the other, running the angle in behind the defence once the first has drawn 3 defenders and the ball is passed to the other running an angle in behind the 3 defenders. Very effective!

        • Agree re: Kas and Klemmer, and sometimes we do too much passing when they should just be running straight and hard. But I don’t agree as much with Graham. He’s pretty small for a front rower. He’s much more effective when he has support and options, half the time he runs anyway but makes more metres because the defence holds off. It works because he’s so good at choosing when to run or pass, and who to pass to.
          Also he doesn’t have much second phase, your rarely see him offload. His strength is passing before the line.

  4. I thought all of these besides Carr and Tualau were announced ages ago. Anyway I never really rated Tualau while he was at the Storm, but think Cleeland and Woolford will get a shot in 2017, as well as Brenko Lee into the starting lineup.

    Bulldogs 2017:
    B Morris
    J Morris

    Elliot (I’m forgetting someone here i’m pretty sure)

  5. For all those who question the value of recruiting young talent and only look for big name players as new signings…

    Big name players aren’t always available or affordable under the salary cap so recruiting fresh young talent with potential becomes just as important. Personally I am more excited about Souths new signings of young talent and their potential than I am about Farah, Rochow and Kelly.

    Souths new young recruits:

    Braidon Burns (Panthers), Tyrell Fuimaono (Eels), Brett Greinke (Broncos), Robert Jennings (Panthers), Connor Tracey (Sharks) – before he blew out his knee!

    Bringing in young talent to increase depth, give opportunities to potential rising young stars and put pressure on under performing first graders is also an important part of a clubs recruitment IMO. Just think about Nathan Cleary, Ash Taylor, Coen Hess, Kayln Ponga, Leilani Latu, Latrell Mitchell etc. What was your reaction when you first heard about these signings or first grade debuts? Would you turn any away from your club now? You never know what the next crop of young talent is going to bring.

    I also think Brenko Lee will do well and is a solid, dependable, quality first grader that was under utilised at the Raiders in favour of the other Lee.

    • Well said. Some Parra fans were saying the same about some of our signing, like George Jennings. At the end of the day every team needs depth, whether it comes through the juniors, or taking a punt on an unproven player from another team.

      • eels47

        Robert Jennings will get a chance at Souths for sure after Joe Burgess moved on.

        Oh Joe, why did you go Joe? You were far from slow Joe. Played well when you found your mojo.

        (Help me, Dr Seuss has taken over!). 😉

    • Brenko saw less use because when he was younger he was not fit enough and he is not a winger. Croker and Leilua aren’t going to be dropped for him to play his best position. Edrick Lee is a better winger than Brenko. Brenko is a better centre than Edrick.

    • When those young rookies got their chance they actually took their opportunity and played really well. Its hard to know if every rookie is going to be a superstar but a good depth signing could soon prove a good or bad gamble. If bad, at least it’s a smaller contract and not chewing up salary cap space.

      I like the signing of Wolford (pressure on Licha), Carr and Lee. They all have shown alot of promise and hopefully get their chance.

      Bring on round 1 already!

  6. Id have hoped the knights chased Brenko as his a big body with solid D something the knight havent got anywhere across the park tbh

  7. More new talent is awesome for the game ,,, at least the Dogs appear to be going forward unlike my beloved ,,,,

  8. Dogs 2017 Lineup:

    1. Will Hopoate
    2. Brett Morris
    3. Josh Morris
    4. Kerrod Holland
    5. Brenko Lee
    6. Josh Reynolds
    7. Moses Mbye
    8. Aidan Tolman
    9. Craig Garvey
    10. James Graham
    11. Greg Eastwood
    12. Josh Jackson
    13. David Klemmer
    14. Josh Cleeland
    15. Raymond Faitala-Mariner
    16. Danny Fualalo
    17. Sam Kassiano

    • Brenko Lee is a career centre and at best a reserve grade winger.
      He’s wasted on the wing and any dogs lineup that has him there is either lacking depth or making a mistake.

      • You’re a raiders fan so I’d expect you to know more about him than me but didn’t he score like 5 tries in 1 game on the wing?

        • Agree with Zimbler, he is strait up centre… Think he scored 4 or 5 in a match on the wing but he literally just had to put the ball down, a prop could of scored those tries. Can be a bit lazy but definitely has potential

  9. Sad to see Tom Carr go from Saints as I thought he was tall, quick & elusive. Just needed to put some more muscle on his slight frame.

    With Nene McDonald signed & only a Cutters contract on offer I wish him all the best..

  10. 5 reasons dogs won’t make the 8 other then woolford none of those players will make a difference but in saying that des won’t play Woodford cause youth doesn’t exist in his coaching hand book

    • krazyman

      If Cleeland can transition into first grade then I would try:

      1. Moses Mbye (as you said his junior footy was at FB)
      2. Brett Morris
      3. Josh Morris
      4. Will Hopoate (Kerrod Holland on Sundays!)
      5. Brenko Lee
      6. Josh Reynolds (would be better suited to hooker but Dogs are short on halves)
      7. Josh Cleeland

      9. Craig Garvey

  11. 1.moses mbye
    2. Brett Morris
    3. Josh Morris
    4. Brenko lee
    5.marcelo Montoya/remis smith
    6. ?
    8.david klemmer
    9. Josh Reynolds
    10. James Graham
    11. Greg Eastwood
    12. Josh Jackson
    13. Aiden tolman
    14.zac woolford
    15. Raymond Faitala-Mariner
    17. Sam Kassiano

    • krazyman

      Only listing the major changes:

      1.Moses Mbye – agree
      6. ?
      9. Josh Reynolds – agree
      13. Aiden tolman – agree

      The “?” is the whole issue with the Dogs ATM (as we have discussed). Until they get 2 decent halves they will always run into problems trying to force square pegs through round holes (playing players out of position).

    • krazyman

      Just wanted to acknowledge YOU got the scoop on moving Tolman to lock. Sorry JayBob. 😉

      13. Aiden Tolman

  12. Dogs need two new halves & another hard running forward like matangi someone who just runs fast hard & straight that’s what I mean by the ?

    • krazyman

      All that and someone at dummy half who can create, identify and exploit attacking opportunities.

      Also someone who can pass at least 9 out of 10 passes out in front of halves and forwards at a catchable height would help. Balls passed at the the knees, the face or a metre behind a player just doesn’t cut it in first grade.

        • jayy12

          Mate in the modern game I think sometimes players are just pushed into this role because they aren’t big enough, fast enough or skillful enough to play elsewhere and the team has a need to fill this place.

          Just look at players like: “C. Smith, I. Luke, M. Ennis, J. Hodgson, P. Wallace, etc.” (plenty of other examples but I’m not going through every team), they all know their way around this role, have an eye for the game and the skills necessary to pull this off.

          Players like Lichaa, Rein, De Gois, Baptiste all struggle not just by comparison but by any measure of success. Not sure whether or not to include Tyler Randell on this list but when he was replaced (in the game against Souths in Rnd 25) by Dylan Phythian, Phythian made an immediate and obvious impact. Granted to be fair he isn’t a hooker but FB/HB and 5/8 but similar skills, speed and ability to read a game are required. Just my opinion…

        • Yeah mate that is understandable how some players are placed there for the sake of it rather than their ability but there is nothing more momentum killing then a pass from hooker either at their knees/head or 1m behind haha. Even being a defensive hooker you would think the training would involve the most important part, passing.

          Plus it’s annoying as a fan watching it.

        • jayy12

          “there is nothing more momentum killing then a pass from hooker either at their knees/head or 1m behind”

          Unfortunately for poor Lichaa (I have to use him as an example yet again) but there were plenty of examples (even late in the year) for the Dogs where this happened. He either threw to ball to the wrong place or shot out of dummy half on last tackle near the try line and got tackled with the ball or realised he had done the wrong thing and played hot potato with the ball giving it an unsuspecting forward or throwing it too late to the halves after the train had already left the station. Mbye and Reynolds read him the riot act, and rightly so.

          Too many chances for the Dogs were wasted as a result and in a very competitive competition that translates into losses and missing out on “going deep into the finals” as the Dogs CEO expects.

  13. This should be the 2017 side my good friends, can’t believe I thought of it just now!
    1) Brett Morris
    2) Reimis Smith/Tyrone Philips
    3) Josh Morris
    4) Brenko Lee
    5) Will Hopoate (Marcelo Montoya on Sundays)
    6) Josh Cleeland
    7) Moses Mbye (gk)
    8) David Klemmer
    9) Josh Reynolds
    10) James Graham (c)
    11) Josh Jackson (vc to help with the refs if Graham is going to explode)
    12) Greg Eastwood
    13) Aiden Tolman
    14) Sam Kasiano (prop)
    15) Raymond Faitala-Mariner (second row. kid is very talented and very similar to SBW)
    16) Lloyd Perrett (was great this year in NSW Cup and deserves a shot)
    17) Craig Garvey/Zac Woolford/Lachlan Lewis (utility)
    If Mbye was to play fullback and shuffle the backline around, Lewis would slot in at halfback next to Cleeland and Brett Morris would play on the wing alongside brother Josh. This side playing a good brand of football will definitely be there come October and will finish top 4. This side looks so good.

    • I love the sound of this lineup for next season but I would switch b moz to wing and give brad abbey first shot at the 1! he done very well in lower grade and was signed last season as a potential long term fullback. less experience at key positions but worth a shot!

      • camelcraig

        A change of FB seems mandatory for the Dogs. A team can’t go into a season and already tell you all the games their FB is going to miss, ridiculous! If BMoz’s dodgy knees makes him an unlikely candidate then the Dogs should try both Mbye and Abbey to see who is the best fit. Good idea.

        • Meant to say:

          “A team can’t go into a season and just by looking at the calendar already tell you all the games their FB is going to miss,”

    • Nice side mate, looks promising.
      I agree with Craig too, I really hope Abbey is ready for first grade next season.

      Tolman should play 80 at Lock imo, and be the ultimate tackling machine. Cut back on the runs and let the other more powerful guys do them, who will also be fresher due to the extra interchanges available.

      • JayBob

        “Tolman should play 80 at Lock imo”

        Ah JayBob! Second time on this article someone has scooped me while I was typing (the other was krazyman). I’ll just have to learn to type quicker I suppose. 😉

        I agree Tolman at lock for 80 mins (and possible captain with Jackson vc might be the way to go). Also, agree about Garvey (but ultimately Reynolds should be their hooker once the Dogs actually have two good halves).

        • Good point about Captain. I love Graham more than any other player in the team(equal with Reynolds and Jacko). He gives it all every game and is so passionate about the club and winning, but I just don’t think the C is suiting him. He’s stopped getting angry at the refs which is good, but that could also be impacting his game. I want him fired up like a madman, just not when talking to refs.. or near anyones ear 😛
          Plus I don’t think the refs can even understand him half the time.
          Tolman seems like a pretty calm and collected guy and if he’s on the field for 80 he’s a good choice.
          I still think Jacko is the best choice, who plays 80 anyway(and will probably more often over the season).

    • canterburybankstownbulldog4ver

      Looks like an improvement on the current setup to me. With a shortage of halves at the Dogs (ironic since their coach was a great half himself and should have an eye for this) the key for any change for the Dogs’ spine is Cleeland, so I hope he goes well.

      Although I agree Reynolds is best suited to Hooker (and the Dogs would see an improvement in their attack right off the bat), given what krazyman has said about BMoz it might mean that Mbye would be best given a chance at FB. If this happens then Reynolds might be best off (for the time being) staying at 5/8 to partner Cleeland (at least until he can find his feet). Two young rookie halves debuting at the same time spells trouble for any first grade team IMO. So Lewis perhaps would be eased in down the track.

      If Reynolds stays in the halves to partner Cleeland, Garvey will more than do the job at hooker IMO. The Dogs should not make the mistake of keeping Lichaa in the 17 but rather demote him to reserve grade where he can work on his game and be used for depth.

      Aiden Tolman, being more able to cover 80 mins and being the smallest of the Dogs front row forwards, might work well at lock where he could see more mins. I would love to see David Klemmer play more mins but he is very much an impact player at this point (like Kasiano) so that gives the Dogs an enormous advantage to impact the game off the bench. BOTH players need to see increased mins though. Perhaps Lloyd Perrett might get Tolman’s run on spot? Overall an improved team and Hopoate will cause less disruption (on Sundays off) covering centre/wing.

      “Josh Jackson (vc) to help with the refs if Graham is going to explode”

      Thanks for putting a smile on my face. How is Jackson as vc going to control Graham if he explodes? How would Jackson even as captain control Graham if he explodes? Also, refs will only talk to the captain not the vc unless they are acting captain and the captain is off the field. It is a good point and I fully support the idea of Jackson being the “on field” captain while Graham is the club captain and is obviously the leader of the team but the worst possible player to front the refs on their behalf. Cheers.

      • Yeah that is true. Even if Jackson was given the captaincy, Graham will still be an on field leader like in 2014. He doesn’t need the captaincy to be a leader I reckon.

  14. Why the hell mullethead hasler wont sign will smith off contract at penrith is beyond me.
    Can play 1 or 6 well, same as lolohea.

  15. You guys all make good points that I have taken into consideration. Brad Abbey is a chance to play fullback with Brett Morris probably not able to handle the fullback position so he can play in the 2 jersey. Mbye could play there too but I think he should be given a proper chance at halfback under a good playstyle and see how he goes. If he fails to fire then by all means move him to fullback. I think that Abbey should probably be fullback next year with Morris and Hopoate on the wings, Josh Morris and Lee in the centres and Cleeland and Mbye as the halves with Reynolds at hooker like I said above. Mbye and Cleeland will have some time to work their combos and have an off season and trials to do so and can work with Reynolds too. I would be rapt with happiness if my exact side comes to fruition, or if Abbey is fullback.

  16. bulldogs will battle 2 make the 8 with there current halfs ,they have no last tackle kicking game , & there 2017 player s they have signed i dont see 1 1st grade signing branco lee the biggest signimg prfff

  17. Finally back!

    As stated above Brenko is a better centre than on the wing. Edrik is a winger nothing more nothing less.

    The problem with both these cousins is their unforced error rate. They play on instinct but their very instinct let’s them down too.

    Brenko had to move on because with all that raw ability, he just doesn’t have that consistency to his game that brings him up to the noted abd relied upon players.

    Let’s hope Des can turn that raw ability to consistent footy for Brenko. Great talent. Would rather have him stay at Canberra but hey we always seem to have an over supply of young talent to keep around. Always our loss for other’s gain. Raiders fans are immune to it. 😁

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