Critics have written them off but Canterbury halfback Lachlan Lewis said the side fans got to enjoy watching at the end of 2018 is the one they can look forward to seeing this season.
After unearthing the likes of Lewis and Reimis Smith midway through last season, the Bulldogs found their mojo and produced their best football, upstaged the likes of the Wests Tigers, Broncos, Warriors and St George Illawarra in a late-season surge of four wins from five matches.
Despite not having played a game in six months, Lewis said the side was ready to pick up where they left off with the addition of Corey Harawira-Naera, Dylan Napa, Christian Crichton, Jack Cogger and Nick Meaney.
"For anyone that followed the game, especially our team towards the end of last year they would have seen the style we were playing - you can expect that again this year," Lewis said.
"We’ve had more of an opportunity to focus on our strengths.
"To do what we did at the end of last year again everyone has to be playing their best football and that's something that Dean [Pay] has made clear – so if you get your call up to first grade then that means you are ready and performing."
Warriors v Bulldogs - Round 1
The Bulldogs won just three of their first 10 matches in 2018 and with the bookmakers predicting the Bulldogs to get the wooden spoon, Lewis said it's given the side even more incentive to kick off their 2019 season with a bang - starting this Saturday at Mt Smart Stadium against the Warriors.
"It's been said a few times how no one is backing us and people are writing us off," Lewis said.
"We don't need that as motivation to win and compete but it does add a bit more fuel to the fire.
"We are determined come out there, play our footy and compete the best we can."
Before Lewis had even stepped foot on the pitch he was among conversations from being the nephew of Queensland legend Wally Lewis, but the young gun was quick to prove himself after slotting the winning field goal that gained the Bulldogs their dramatic win over the Warriors in 2018.
The 22-year-old said he’s looking forward to getting a full NRL season under his belt, while soaking up all the knowledge his halves partner Kieran Foran has to offer.
"I don't think I had a solid season last year, I played nine games and there's been a lot of hype of those nine performances," Lewis said.
"I just want to go out there and put a good full season together and keep earning my spot.
Under Lights – Stories behind the New Era: Lachlan Lewis
"Kieran [Foran] and I got that Bega trial under our belt and the training we've done since.
"He's an invaluable resource, had plenty of experience.
"I really excited to see how we will go out on the field - we're starting to work on a few nicknames and calls to each other."