Canberra a danger side in 2016: Hasler
Bulldogs coach Des Hasler is expecting big things from the Raiders in 2016, labelling Ricky Stuart's charges as the "danger side" for season 2016.
Speaking to bulldogs.com.au on Canterbury-Bankstown's early-season blockbusters, Hasler said he's keen to see what the Green Machine can produce when they travel to the Bulldogs' spiritual home in Belmore Oval, adding the recruitment of former Titans playmaker Aidan Sezer could prove to be one of the more shrewd pieces of business on the player transfer market.
"This side I see as the danger side, I really do, for 2016," Hasler said. "I like what they've done, Sezer is a huge plus for them. I think he'll help with their direction and their kicking game."
The Raiders showed glimpses of what they were capable of in 2015, finishing the season with a golden-point win over the Eels in Parramatta courtesy of a Josh Hodgson try.
The last time they faced the Bulldogs it was the away side that prevailed at GIO Stadium in a 75-point thriller in the nation's capital back in Round 11, 2015. Hasler believes foundations for improvement at the Raiders have been laid, with all the ingredients for a top-eight berth in place.
"I just think the experience they had last year, building on the size of their forward pack, I really think they're going to surprise a few people this year," Hasler added.
"I think the Raiders won't be an easy win, so I'm pleased we're playing them at Belmore."
Last season marked the first time since 1998 that an NRL match was played at the iconic rugby league venue, and Hasler said it's a fixture that the club has already circled on the calendar.
The Dogs enjoyed a 20-4 victory over the Storm on a memorable Monday night for the club, but were unable to repeat those efforts just weeks later when the Sharks stunned the home side with a two-point victory.
"I thought for the players, [returning to Belmore] was a real highlight for them. You could just sense in the build-up prior to that week, there was a lot of energy," Hasler said.
"And that game against Melbourne didn't disappoint."