5 Burning Questions: Bulldogs
Can Canterbury-Bankstown bounce back from their second Grand Final loss in three years to go one better in 2015?
1. Do the Bulldogs have a thing for brothers?
Evidently, yes. But more importantly, they have a thing for talented brothers. The acquisition of Brett Morris doubles the sibling quota at the NRL's resident family club to two, although some would swear they've seen Frank Pritchard and Sam Kasiano go through a bunk bed or 10 over their non-diet childhood. But along with Perrett brothers Sam and Lloyd, the Morris twins makes almost a quarter of Des Hasler's side now connected by blood which, as they say, is a lot thicker than water.
2. Will Brett Morris play fullback?
Well, if he doesn't, then Bulldogs will have the fastest left edge in the competition. Either way, defences will definitely be seeing double. It remains to be seen whether the younger twin – by 10 minutes, apparently – will come sweeping out the back or be finishing off Josh's good work on the fringes, but at the very least he'll get a shot there. Brett had two long stints in the no. 1: a 15-game stretch back in 2008 with the Dragons going 9-6 in that period, and then 13 matches in 2012 with mixed results. Tries over that timeframe? 12 in 28 games.
3. How do they take the next step?
More like the final step, as opposed to the next one. Twice in three years they've been left to hold the bouquet when they'd rather be wearing the premiership ring. Obviously you can only do that when you're standing at the altar, and they obviously have no problem getting there. Still, the fact remains they were fourth lowest in points, tries, and line breaks over the entire competition last season. As alluded to earlier, a strike weapon of Brett Morris' calibre can amend those numbers significantly. He won't make the Bulldogs score more than Channing Tatum on New Year's Eve, but at least he'll do a good double act.
4. Who replaces Mick Ennis as skipper?
Not an easy man to follow, Mick 'The Menace' Ennis. You could hand it to the young fella they call 'Grub', whose bite is just as ferocious as his predecessor's bark. Or you could put up media darling Frank Pritchard, this year's co-captain. More than likely, however, the skipper duties will be shared amongst grand final captains Trent Hodkinson and James Graham. The former is an 80-minute general who already leads the team around the park with his boot, and the latter, a man who gets in the face of both the opposition and his own men. An opposite, yet complimenting, duo.
5. Is Michael Lichaa ready for a major role?
He's just 12 months into what is certainly going to be a long NRL career, but is this 21-year-old from Wollongong ready to be the starting point of the Bulldogs attack and the centre point of their defence? Given they made the difficult decision to let go of a veteran pro like Ennis, the Bulldogs certainly think so. Lichaa started eight of his 15 games with the Sharks this year, and was solid without being spectacular. Expect to see more incisive running and instinctive play from the City representative at Belmore.