Stat To Fix: Bulldogs in need of some X-Factor

Canterbury endured a difficult season in 2018 and were dealt a further blow in the off-season, losing star prop David Klemmer to Newcastle.

Many will tip the Bulldogs to struggle again in 2019 given Klemmer's exit along with the departures of Moses Mbye, Aaron Woods and the Morris brothers.

But the year ahead could also provide a fresh start for many players at the club who are yet to come entirely out of their shells.

Statistically Canterbury didn't do a whole lot wrong in 2018 and were renowned for their grit and courage, which in this game, can only get you so far.

One area Dean Pay's men will need to improve on is tackle busts.

Individual match-ups should prove key for the Bulldogs with the ability to break the first tackle a vital cog in putting defensive lines in two minds and creating second phase play – something they struggled with in 2018.

Canterbury finished last in that department with 668 tackle breaks for the season at an average of 27.9 per game.

That number equates to just 1.6 per player during each contest. The competition leaders were St George Illawarra with 967 tackle breaks from 26 games at 2.2 per player.

The Bulldogs' attack overall was ranked the fourth worst in the competition ahead of only Parramatta, Newcastle and the Wests Tigers, with 428 points scored.

It should also be noted the Wests Tigers (674 tackle breaks), Gold Coast (677) and North Queensland (680) ranked in the bottom four in tackle breaks and all missed the finals.

Newcastle fullback Kalyn Ponga finished the season with an average of seven tackle busts per game, while Raiders winger Nick Cotric had the highest aggregate with 149.

In comparison Will Hopoate was the Bulldogs' best with 84 in total, averaging 3.5 per game. The side's next best was Mbye (59), who left the club in June.

With teams at their best, anything predictable from the Bulldogs in 2019 is unlikely to create any inroads. Canterbury will need to take more risks next season with the ball in hand, and back their defence to make up for any errors they make.

The arrivals of Dylan Napa, Nick Meaney and Corey Harawira-Naera should add a little bit more flair to a side desperate to get back to their aggressive ways.