bulldogs season preview

NRL expert Steve Green has put together his mammoth season preview for 2021. We’re running through every club, from his predicted wooden spooners to those he thinks will take out he premiership. Today it’s the Bulldogs season preview.

2020 recap

Although they managed to narrowly avoid the spoon, the Bulldogs still had another disappointing season in 2020. Sacking Coach Pay was harsh in my view. But so far Barrett has made some astute buys and things look to be improving for the Bulldogs.

The Bulldogs season was heavily disrupted by a string of off-season matters, such as boardroom dramas and players getting stood down for fraternising with schoolgirls. Foran was injured for much of the year. New recruit Luke Thompson took a little while to settle in after moving across from the UK.

Despite finishing towards the bottom, the Bulldogs were highly competitive in a lot of their games. If they managed to close out a few more wins, they could have finished much higher up the ladder.

Bulldogs season preview: Losses

The Bulldogs let go of a lot of players at the end of the season. Not one of them will be missed in my view. All of them were either past their best or not up to first grade. In terms of cleaning house, this was a methodical and well executed culling.

Bulldogs season preview: Gains

Nick Cotric, Kyle Flanagan and Corey Allan are savvy buys, with all three plugging gaping holes in the Bulldogs backline. Cotric will provide them with a finisher. Allen deserves a shot at 1. Flanagan will give them a much needed goal kicker and organiser. Jack Hetherington and Corey Waddell will provide depth to their forward pack.

Bulldogs season preview: Rookie radar

Paul Alamoti is only 17 and while it’s unlikely he will get an NRL start in 2021, this kid is so special that it would not surprise me if the Dogs give him a run later in the season. A powerhouse centre with freakish ball skills, the Bulldogs should be signing him on a big deal for four years ASAP. While his dominance in the younger grades was partly due to his pure size, his other attributes suggest he is the real deal and one to watch. I am a big believer is ‘good enough, old enough’ and guys like Haas and Ponga have shown young superstars can handle it in the NRL (and Origin) arena.

Bulldogs season preview: Players to watch

Jake Averillo looked great at times and should be given a go in the halves in my view. While Lachlan Lewis tries hard and is a great defender, the Bulldogs need points. Jake will likely be the man to deliver most of their try assists in 2021.

Luke Thompson will be much better for having a full NRL pre-season under his belt. Despite being thrown in the deep-end, the British star showed glimpses of why he is so highly rated towards the end of 2020.

Kyle Flanagan will be desperate to prove himself at the Doggies after the harsh treatment he received at the Roosters. He looked to have bulked up a little in 2021, which was needed. At times in 2020 he looked five kilograms too small to play NRL.

Brad Dietz is a journeyman that has not cracked the NRL yet. However, the 25-year-old has shown he can play footy at the NSW Cup level and scored an impressive try against the Sharks in the trial. A zippy number 9, Dietz might just snag the jersey by the end of the season, with the Bulldogs having struggled with the dummy half role for the past few seasons.

Bulldogs season preview: Weaknesses

The Doggies head into this season with a new spine and some new outside backs. Sso there is a risk that they will take a little while to gel. Coach Barrett is also unproven at the NRL level, having not impressed too much during his short stint at Manly. While I think he has a good eye for talent, the jury is still out on his week-to-week strategy and ability to get a team to buy in to his philosophy.

Bulldogs season preview: Strengths

Finally, the shadow of Des Hassler and his mismanagement of the salary cap has ended. Coach Barrett has opened the cheque book and brought in some much needed talent to Belmore. I like how their outside backs are shaping up, and I think the Bulldogs will have a much better attack in 2021

Bulldogs season preview: Ladder prediction

15th

NRL season previews

Manly
Dragons
Broncos
Knights

Storm
Souths
Sharks
Warriors
Eels

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