NRL 2021 Season Preview: Canterbury – Bankstown Bulldogs

Will Kyle Flanagan take the Bulldogs to another Level? Source: Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs Twitter

2021 looks to be a turning point for the Bulldogs after a productive off-season, recruiting a new coach and several new players.

Trent Barrett, a former assistant at Penrith took over as head coach following the resignation of Dean Pay last season.

With experience under Ivan Cleary, Barrett knows what makes a successful team tick.

In his first coaching stint, he took the Sea Eagles from 13th to finals within a season and reinvented numerous players. His resume is impressive, so fans hope to see a new and improved Bulldogs’ side under his leadership.

What to expect:

Last season, the Bulldogs often looked competitive but struggled to get the reward.

Their lack of offensive output cost them several games. Ranking 10th for goal kicking accuracy, they averaged 14.1 points per game. Well below the league average of 20.9.

While they conceded more tries than they scored, metres gained was a glaring issue for the Bulldogs. Like tries, they conceded more metres than they gained for a differential of -275 meters per match. Very few of their players can run tirelessly and build metres, allowing them to get out-run all season.

The team’s defense was easily broken through, finishing 15th for missed tackles and tackle efficiency.

Over the summer, Barrett’s men will have worked hard to improve those areas in their game

Jake Averillo will be expected to continue his breakout form from last season, while several new signings are set to lift the team. Ex-Raider Nick Cotric and Queensland’s Corey Allen strengthen and are viable solutions to the Dogs’ backline issues. Up front, Penrith’s former Prop, Jack Hetherington, and 36-gamer for Manly, Corey Waddell, provide support.

The spotlight is firmly on Kyle Flanagan who was harshly cast aside by the Roosters after one season. As one of the league’s top point scorers and a player with a thirst to prove himself, he could quickly become a reliable player for the Dogs.

Rome wasn’t built in a day, and the same principle applies to a team rebuild. It’s a little unreasonable to expect them to jump straight into finals. But with liberation from the salary cap’s constraints and plenty of talent onboard, fans still have plenty to look forward to this season and beyond.

Key match up:

In round 2 and round 12, Trent Barrett and his men face off against the side he helped to a minor premiership. Although they’re both at different stages of development, it will be a great test for the Bulldogs to see how they match up against the Panthers.

While people will be looking at the coaches’ box, there’s a lot of interest on the field too. New recruit Jack Hetherington will meet his old teammates for the first time, as well as Dallin Watane-Zelezniak, Corey Waddell, Sione Katoa, and Christian Crichton.

Squad:

Corey Allan, Renouf Antoni, Jake Averillo, Dean Britt, Nick Cotric, Christian Crichton, Matt Doorey, Adam Elliott, Raymond Faitala-Mariner, Kyle Flanagan, Tyrone Harding, Jack Hetherington, Will Hopoate, Josh Jackson, Sione Katoa, Tuipolotu Katoa, Lachlan Lewis, Jeremy Marshall-King, Nick Meaney, Dylan Napa, Ofahiki Ogden, Jayden Okunbor, James Roumanos, Chris Smith, Joe Stimson, Luke Thompson, Corey Waddell, Brandon Wakeham, Dallin Watene-Zelezniak

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