SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 12: David Klemmer of the Bulldogs watches on during the warm-up before the round 14 NRL match between the Canterbury Bulldogs and the St George Illawarra Dragons at ANZ Stadium on June 12, 2017 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

2017 was definitely a year to forget for the boys from Belmore.

Lacking bite in attack as one of the lowest scoring teams in the competition, the Bulldogs didn’t give their fans too many reasons to be excited last season. Des Hasler seemed to lose his aura and his relationship with the Canterbury Board was highly talked about.

Having lost fan favourites Josh Reynolds and James Graham to rival clubs in 2018, how will the Bulldogs fair under new coach Dean Pay?

Dean brings back the culture to Belmore. Having played in the Bulldogs Golden Era, he knows better than most what it means to be a Bulldog. He is just what the Bulldogs need at the moment with the club’s forward pack struggling to assert its authority over the opposition. Handed the task of recreating ‘The Dogs Of War’ and rejuvenating Canterbury’s woeful attack, Dean has emphasised how he plans to implement an aggressive style of play allowing the club’s stars to entertain and put some points on the board.

New recruits Aaron Woods and Kieran Foran have a huge role to play in this new look Bulldogs side. Fresh from a world cup victory with the Kangaroos, Woods is ready for a big year and keen to buy into Dean Pay’s plans. It is well known the Bulldogs look to play an aggressive brand of football. The leadership of Woods, Aiden Tolman Josh Jackson and David Klemmer will determine how successful the Bulldogs are.

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The most important piece of the puzzle is prized recruit, Kieran Foran. Unsuccessful in securing his signature on numerous occasions the Bulldogs finally have their man. Plagued by injuries and off-field issues in recent times, Foran needs to be fighting fit to guide the club out of their try scoring rut. Having skipped the world cup to focus on season 2018, Canterbury fans are praying the Foran of old returns making him one of the best buys of the season. An unknown and untested halves partnership looms for Canterbury in 2018, with Dean Pay yet to decide who partners Foran this season.

Bulldogs fans are hoping for an improved side to grace their television screens this coming season. With one of the lowest crowd attendances, the Bulldogs will be looking to turn things around and bring the Belmore faithful back to cheer on their team. Time will tell whether the Bulldogs will bite in 2018.

Predicted Round 1 Line-Up

  1. Moses Mbye
  2. Brett Morris
  3. Josh Morris
  4. Will Hopoate
  5. Marcelo Montoya
  6. Josh Cleeland
  7. Kieran Foran
  8. Aiden Tolman
  9. Michael Lichaa
  10. Aaron Woods
  11. Josh Jackson
  12. Rhyse Martin
  13. David Klemmer
  14. Adam Elliott
  15. Danny Fualalo
  16. Raymond Faitala-Mariner
  17. Francis Tualau


  1. Bulldogs have a soft pack adding woods just weakens them forans body is shot he’ll last 8 rounds then his body will let him down again

  2. I really don’t think that line-up will strike a lot of fear in opposition teams. A lot is going to hang on Foran and what level of success he will have. If he can find form then there will definitely be improvement, but if not then they will really struggle. Their pack will make plenty of metres, which will help, but their seems to be a distinct lack of flair in the team. Who will be responsible for creating something from nothing when needed? Mbye perhaps?

  3. I really struggle to understand the Woods purchase, I don’t think he adds much to this pack at all! Foran will be good if he is fit, but I don’t think he is.
    Aaron Woods or Jarryd Hayne, who will be the bigger of the DUD purchases for 2018!

    • The difference is Woods has signed for massive $$$$, Hayne is on a smaller contract. Hayne has more incentive to perform and even if he does flop, he is falling from a much lower platform than Woods (value for $ wise).

      • That makes no sense 47, I love your passion but we should not have him at the club, he will be as he previously was a disruptive influence at the club, or any club that he were to join. He will offer little value for his $600K trust me on that!
        I bet Woods plays more game time over the year than Hayne does, therefore the value will be similar.
        I do love your passion for the club, but we made a huge mistake on Hayne!

        • I disagree, but I get where you are coming from. Hayne had one of his best seasons under Arthur before he went to the States. In fact, he was a better overall footballer that season than in 2009. He has openly said that he is not coming back to be the star of the team and that he is willing to fit into the structures that are in place. Yes, he still has to back that up, but I honestly believe that he is coming back for the right reasons. On top of that, it is a one year contract, so if he flops, then goodbye, but if he succeeds, it will be great for the team. The shape he was in upon return to training was a concern, but he has a history of coming back not at peak fitness. He wasn’t happy at the Titans, that was evident from the very first day in his signing press conference where all he spoke about was the Eels. I am prepared to give him the opportunity to show how much he wants to repay the faith the club and BA have shown before I make too much judgement.

        • Hmmmmm? I still don’t know.
          I could write volumes on the pros and cons, but at the end of the day it’s done away.
          I’m not too worried about this contract, given the cost to Parra vs what he’s got to play for (future contracts etc), but I think we should play him on the wing. Taka’s will feed him, and he’ll want tries. If we put him in the centres, at the expenses of Taka’s, will he feed his winger, or go for glory?
          My concerns, longer term are, if he plays well this year and we sign him longer term, on much bigger $, will he start to cruise, / go missing, and will it ultimately cost us through the loss of a young gun/s, given the spot he takes? To me, that’s the biggest risk. I like our squad, and want to keep Gutho, French and Smith.

  4. Pay reproducing “the dogs of war” is a bit of a fallacy. With the crackdown in recent years of foul play, punching, shoulder charge and any forms of aggression, it is impossible to replicate that style of play.

      • Don’t forget South Sydney had their own “Killer Rabbits!” Rabbits.

        1988/1989: Ian Roberts, Les Davidson, Mario Fenech, Michael Andrews, Wayne Chisholm, David Boyle, David Cruickshank, Lindsay Johnston, Jim Serdaris, Steve Mavin, Craig Coleman, Phil Blake, Bruce Longbottom, Paul Roberts, David Hosking, Charlie Saab, Ross Harrington, Darren Maroon, Bronko Djura, Ziggy Niszczot. OK, Ziggy played just before this generation but I couldn’t leave him out Rabbits!

        Remember the Killer Rabbit of Caerbannog in the movie Monty Python and the Holy Grail? That was them Rabbits, cute and fluffy when they ran on the field and then the whistle would blow and they would rip your face off! Teams used to dread coming to Redfern Rabbits. Players used to crawl to the sidelines and beg to be replaced. Do you remember Rabbits? It was brutal Rabbits, brutal. Rabbits? Don’t start me Rabbits! DON’T start me!

    • @ leagueguru

      You are right, “it is impossible to replicate that style of play” given “the crackdown in recent years of foul play, punching, shoulder charge and any forms of aggression.” So how about for heritage round we wind the clock back to the 70’s and throw the modern laminated, sanitised rule book out the window and make the round a real throw back to gladiatorial days of the 70’s and RL’s bygone era? I’m tipping there would be more than a few upsets that round if they did. In the modern game teams are more skilled at winning penalties than scoring points. The focus needs to change. They are brute beasts after all and we need to simplify the rules not make them perform wrestling drills or go to acting school. It isn’t natural. Let them run wild Guru, let them run wild!

  5. There is definitely big question marks over how the Bulldogs will perform this season. Unfortunately for Dean Pay he has inherited the mess that Des Hasler has left behind. Personally, I believe the Bulldogs need some time to adapt and move on from the Hasler era. We will have to wait and see if signing Woods and Foran will pay off.

      • Did you like my trip down memory lane chalky and my segue from “the Dogs of War” to the “Killer Rabbits!” of 1988/1989? Brings tears to the eyes doesn’t it remembering that period and those names that bled for the cardinal and myrtle. Premiership no. 21 should have come in 1989. Oh well, it did come and that’s the main thing. Premiership no. 22 is just around the corner. I have a feeling chalky, I have a feeling in my bones! 😉

        • Great memories. I still have a chat with Les Davidson now and then, especially about the time he and David Boyle both played on the wings for half a game in reserve grade so that they would be eligible for first grade. They had been playing an exhibition match in the USA.

          Ah…..the memories.

        • It was there on a platter mighty. I couldn’t help myself. Admit it you smiled didn’t you? As for supporting Manly, if I had my way there would be a seagull cull on every beach in Australia. Rats with wings mighty, they are rats with wings! They go through the trash and make a mess and deafen everyone with their incessant squawking! The only thing they fear is being whacked with a wooden spoon which is why they are at pains to avoid them I guess.

  6. They got no flash they as good as ash. No running forwards to break the line and no swerve in the backs. No Pay day.

  7. A lot of people bag out Wood’s but I believe he will be a great addition to the Bulldogs pack, he has good offloads and aggression and as for Foran if he’s fit and mentally healthy a top 4 is definitely on the cards.

  8. 1. Mbye
    2. Morris
    3. Morris
    4. Hopoate
    5. Montoya
    6. Foran
    7. Frawley
    8. Tolman
    9. Lichaa
    10. Woods
    11. Jackson
    12. Elliot
    13. Klemmer

    14. Brown
    15. Tualau
    16. Faitala-Mariner
    17. Eastwood

    18. Martin
    19. Fualalo
    20. Holland
    21. Cleeland

  9. For me, Graham will be a big loss – I still don’t get that one. I used to love watching Klemmer – remember when he wanted to rip off Corey Parker’s head! That was aggression. He seems to have put on 20kg and just plods along. Time will tell – was it Dessie’s coaching style or the players?

  10. The Dogs are in the same position as about 3 other teams. If things go their way they can finish anywhere from 7th to 12. There is usually only about 4 comp points separating these positions so luck with injuries is the key factor.

  11. Yeah , Woods is primed , he’s gonna eat your children , go out with ya nana , eat a jalapeño without crying 😂😂😂
    Yep , hairband will strike fear into the hearts of the opposition 😂😂😂😂😂😂 please please Darcy put one on his chin

  12. Will the Bulldogs bite in 2018? No. That was James Graham’s job. The loss of Kasiano, Reynolds and Graham for Woods and Foran only weakens the Dogs it does not improve their chances. Aaron Woods (Chewbacca) signature move is backing up the bus (running in reverse and backing into the opposition), which should possibly count as negative run metres.

    With Lichaa still at hooker the drain is still blocked and quality ball for the halves will be at a premium. The Bulldogs need a quality hooker and this still has not been addressed. Everything hangs on the gamble to move Mbye to FB (a good move IMO) and on whether Foran and Cleeland can give the Dogs direction and some attacking flair. This is far less certain and places too much pressure on Foran given his well publicised off-field dramas and time away from the game.

    Woods IMO is a dud and is overrated. Klemmer and Jackson are the ONLY quality forwards left at the Dogs who will definitely lose their bite up front next season. Aside from Klemmer the Dogs pack will not intimidate any team and will be on the back foot most of the time struggling to make yards through the middle third of the field.

    Dean Pay is unproven at this level and will find it hard to have success right from the start. It will take time for this new Dogs outfit to take shape and patience from their fans to stay the course. I cannot see the Dogs making the 8 next season and they look more likely for a bottom 5 finish IMO. Sorry Dogs fans.

    • I agree with most of that, but I do rate Woods, although not on a $1 mil p.a. I think they could see less minutes / a greater injury risk to Graham going forward, but if it was less minutes alone I would have kept him.

      I think Lichaa’s little, “he’s off Dessie”s shackles” runs will be short lived, and they’ll be sorry they let Garvey go (I like/rate him, and we was cheap).

      Is Foran going to work? I don’t know, but I’d expect it’s less likely now they’ve sacked Dessie.

      That’s not a bad lineup, but it’s lacking, and I still can’t see how that squad can get them to the salary cap, so I think there were too many back ended deals, and “Dessie, meet the bus”.

      I can’t see them making the 8.

      • You like your Ochroma pyramidale then I see mighty. If you rate “Balsa Woods” you must have one planted in your backyard. Nice and soft and easy to break, safe for kiddies to make swords out of without any fear of getting hurt. That’s what Aaron Woods is to me, Chewbacca on the outside and “Balsa Woods” on the inside. Soft and brittle and easy to break. He doesn’t go hard for fear of being broken in two which is why he backs into the opposition smelly end first! Woods has found the perfect place to hide, behind his 198 cm tall mate David Klemmer (the only real steel left in the “Dogs of War” forward pack).

        • never under estimate a coach that bleeds blue. . .Dean Pay will at least make these guys play for the jersey that they wear and they wont see him as a mercenary coach such as Hasler.

        • Thats history mate’ he is also now a coach without a job. I absolutely respect Des’s achievements but they are yesterdays news.

        • That may be so pedro but coaches can’t perform miracles overnight especially when they are making their first grade coaching debuts, and not with the cattle that Pay has or when the Dogs have to adhere to a salary cap. There was a coach in recent history who was given a license to write blank cheques and a penthouse suite with no ceiling to work his first year miracle but Pay and the Dogs are playing by the rules so it will be a slow grind forward IMO. They may perform with more consistency and structure and commitment to the jersey but I do not think (given their side on paper) that they will come close to finishing in the top 8 after 26 rounds.

          I also don’t think Mary is in for a happy 2018 and the Dragons are going to come back to the field. McInnes is consistent and hard working but lacks flair and x-factor, Dufty looks good at FB (unless Widdop is given a chance there) and Widdop and Hunt may work well together in the halves but neither has a decent kicking game and they will take time to develop a combination.

          Seibold will also need time to make an impression at Souths but the framework is already there and Inglis was a huge loss in 2018. The acquisition of Gagai will be a big boost and there are a lot of talented young players coming through who will step up in 2018. I may be wearing a cardinal and myrtle monocle but I do believe that South Sydney have a better chance of finishing in the top 8 in 2018 than the Dragons or the Dogs.

        • I dont disagree with the facts – Des made his achievements but screwed Manly and the Dogs in the process.
          Pay reminds me of the roots and shoots of the likes of Steve Folks (he won a premiership btw) so lets see…
          I wrote an article for ZT a couple of weeks back but obviously i lack some talent in that dept.
          One of my statements was about depth and injury sorting out the season as i think this comp is closer than most believe.

        • Seibold may have a better “framework” to work with, but part of it is made from very think “drift wood”, called Tom and Gerry (I mean George).

          Now Tom and Gerry (damn autocorrect) don’t need to “back into the tackle” in order to make an offload, because they can usually “offload” before getting close to being tackled, often before they even catch the ball.

          Give me Woods any day.

        • It’s Jerry with a “J” for future reference mighty, but well played. No Woods is the only “drift wood” in this discussion. George and Tom will come good in 2018 or they will be on a boat and sentences to transportation for life back to England! 😉

        • “Inglis was a huge loss in 2018”

          Oh PLEEEEASE don’t be prophetic! Inglis was a huge loss in 2017 he will be a massive inclusion in 2018… unless he becomes a huge loss once again. 🙁

      • Pedro history is very important , it’s what creates culture, something manly and StG need big time ! There are better coaches than Pay who haven’t won a comp , you don’t like your history, I wouldn’t either , having to wait 50 years to win a comp would kill most fans

    • We all hate Manly ihm but you make it the focus of your profile. You focus on the hate (negativity) rather than your own club. I was just pointing out the hypocrisy given your own comment.

      I get it that you don’t like to hear negative commentary about your club and I understand the Dogs have a proud tradition and are going through a bit of a slump but spare a thought for Rabbitohs supporters who have had to endure a 43 year wait between titles and a 40 plus year slump. Souths and their fans have been the butt of joke during this whole period while the Dogs were touted as the so called “Dogs of War” something they have not lived up to for some time now. My criticism was honest and I believe on the mark. If I have offended you then sorry. I was simply giving my opinion. You don’t have to accept it. Let’s move on.

  13. ‘Dogs of war’…..’culture’….Ray Dib has to go if that’s what this overhaul is about.
    Why did they let go of Josh Reynolds – local junior so surely that would suit the claims.
    Banking everything in Foran (similar to Manly with DCE) as their only half – what happened there. At least Manly have a few junior options in Metalf, Wright, Croker or Hastings!

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