25/05/2024

Searching for a spot in the lineup round 1, Alamoti is also noticing a culture of bonding and connection. (Image: Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs/Instagram, Design by Madeline Irwin)

The environment of rugby league encompasses growing and surrounding itself around Paul Alamoti, welcoming every challenge and opportunity that is natural in the course of becoming one of the most exciting and best players in the NRL.

After extending his contract to the end of the 2023 NRL season, Alamoti is continuing to stay ready for his name to be called up when it is time.

At the age of 19, Alamoti is starting to get his feet wet in his first year in the top 30 squad of the Canterbury Bulldogs with a strong desire to make his debut and stay in the starting lineup.

“[I want to] play as much NRL as I can. Didn’t get a taste of it last year and I want to play as many games as I can and put my best foot forward for the club,” Alamoti told The Inner Sanctum.

Alamoti’s arrival at the first-grade level also came with a new coach Cameron Ciraldo, who solidified himself as a two-time premiership assistant coach at the Penrith Panthers.

Since Ciraldo’s arrival, Alamoti immediately identified the biggest revelation about the difference in the culture at the club being in a healthier space.

“Connection is what Ciraldo is all about. That is what the team activities are about, being a tight-knit group, a brotherhood,” Alamoti said.

The centre has also been a big fan of the personal relationship he has with his new coach. Being honest with him and working together side-by-side to improve his game, and being upfront about what he expects of him on the football field.

“He [Ciraldo] has helped me massively with my defence, that was my biggest Achilles heel last year and I had a massive focus this pre-season, and he knew that too,” Alamoti said.

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The core the Bulldogs are building has come from very persuasive and high-end recruitment, landing Josh Addo-Carr and Matt Burton in 2022 and Reed Mahoney and Villame Kikau this past off-season to start their journey. 

Alamoti sees this core of experienced players in a very positive manner, looking to them for anything that allows him to pave the way for success and build trust with them.

“They have been guiding. On the field, Fox [Josh Addo-Carr] gives little tips, and Kikau has been massive as well on how I can get better,” he said.

A step further the Bulldogs have gone in their development and reigning the Dogs culture is bringing in former players of the club to training in the pre-season.

The likes of Willie Mason and Andrew Ryan have been present at Belmore and have had a very significant impact on Alamoti immediately in the way they invite togetherness and belonging, as well as finding individual identity in the team.

“Willie Mason is someone I’ve been close with, he’s pulled me aside a few times and spoken to me about how I can be a professional,” Alamoti said.

“Andrew Ryan was my Under 19s State of Origin coach last year, and I’ve had a close connection with him as well since then.”

The return of former Bulldogs player Josh Reynolds, who was given a train and trial contract before receiving a top 30 spot before trials, had Alamoti excited and also recognised the DNA of the club that Reynolds possesses.

“He’s the heart and soul of the club, and what he’s brought to the club is the Bulldogs DNA,” he said.

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