NRL news | Canterbury Bulldogs season preview, The Mole


The only way is up for the Dogs, with a new coach and a much stronger roster in the wake of some smart signings.

RECRUITMENT: The Dogs haven’t wasted any time attempting to erase the disappointments of their poor season in 2020 and have probably built up as well – if not better – than any club in the league.

Nick Cotric (Raiders), Corey Allan (Rabbitohs), Corey Waddell (Sea Eagles), Jack Hetherington (Panthers) and Kyle Flanagan (Roosters) are all quality signings and should walk into the top side.

STRENGTHS: A busy pack that continued to show up despite the club’s problems of last season has been boosted by Waddell and Hetherington. They should lay the platform for the dangerous outside backs, most notably marquee signing Cotric.

WEAKNESSES: The halves were a problem for the Bulldogs last season and the loss of Kieran Foran and Jack Cogger puts the heat on Roosters reject Kyle Flanagan. He found the going tough at back-to-back premiers the Roosters – it won’t be any easier with the last-placed Dogs.

A priority will be finding a man to come up with the big plays at the end of games. The Dogs were behind in 13 games at half-time last season… and lost every one.

MAN UNDER PRESSURE: Dallin Watene-Zelezniak is a class act on his day but struggled for consistency in 2020.

He scored just two tries in 18 games and was shunted between fullback, wing and centre, making 22 errors – one of the highest rates in the league.

ONE TO WATCH: Matthew Doorey. A strong young back-rower in the Bulldogs’ development squad. Won’t start the year in first grade – but may finish it there.

WHAT THE BOOKIES SAY: To win comp $41, to make finals $4.05 (via Sportsbet)

WHAT MOLEY SAYS: The Dogs have undergone an impressive makeover and I can’t wait to see them play under Barrett in 2021. The club won just three games last season and I expect them to triple that this campaign – but fall just short of the finals.

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