Canterbury coach Dean Pay has made bold plans to overhaul what has been a predictable attacking structure in recent years, handing Moses Mbye first crack at the fullback jersey for next season.
In what is Pay’s first major decision as Canterbury head coach, the former NSW and Australian forward has moved quickly to try and bring the best out of the enigmatic Mbye, who has struggled to live up to the hype since his breakout year in 2015.
NRL.com understands Mbye has been told he would be given first chance at making the No.1 jersey his own during the pre-season after a couple of years of underwhelming performances in the halves under now sacked coach Des Hasler.
The Bulldogs signed Mbye on a lucrative multi-year deal in 2016, but the 24-year-old admitted earlier in the year that he didn’t know where he belonged on a football field.
Mbye is one of the most naturally gifted ball-runners in the game, which is why Pay is willing to give him the opportunity to make the transition to fullback.
It’s likely to force Will Hopoate back to the centres after struggling to make an impact at fullback for the Bulldogs throughout what was a disappointing 2017 campaign.
The largest criticism of the Bulldogs under Hasler this year was the stifling and sterile attack, keeping themselves in some games largely through their grit in defence.
With Kieran Foran to wear the No.6 jersey next year, Matt Frawley, Josh Cleeland and Fa’amanu Brown will fight for the right to partner the Kiwi international in a new-look halves combination.
Canterbury’s halfback looms as the final piece of the puzzle to solve in the spine during the pre-season after the club changed its mind and decided to re-sign hooker Michael Lichaa.
The Lebanese international, who was farewelled by the club after the final home game of the season, showed his worth with a strong month to finish the season where it became painstakingly clear he had ignored a three-year directive to avoid running from dummy-half.
The club believes it’s on the verge of becoming salary cap compliant in the coming days, which will culminate in the NRL officially registering the contracts of Foran and Aaron Woods.