Coming away with a loss after going so close against arch-rivals Parramatta is tough to swallow but the heart and commitment shown by the team gives us a huge positive to take away from the game.
Holding a side with so many attacking weapons to just one try late in the contest was a massive defensive effort and is proof that we're on the right track.
After a hard couple of years, I'm very confident that success is on the horizon for the Bulldogs.
It was a big reason why I re-signed with the club until 2023 over the off-season. The future here excites me.
To be honest, I never really thought about going elsewhere. I've been a Bulldog for more than 10 years now, since starting out in the under-20s in 2010, and I wanted to pay back the club's loyalty.
There was never any truth to the stories about me being close to signing with other teams. I don't know where they came from.
Anyway, it was great to come to an agreement and focus totally on the season ahead. The way we finished last year, with seven wins from our final 10 games, had us optimistic about 2020 and that tough round one loss against the Eels shows that optimism isn't misplaced.
Bulldogs happy to play on
We've got a fair chunk of talented youth mixed in with some experience. Our younger guys are now approaching 30, 40 or 50 first-grade games. That's when I started to play consistently at this level and I expect them to do the same.
While this year is a clean slate, we're continuing to place the emphasis on defence that worked in 2019.
I remember we had a tough game against Penrith at Bankwest Stadium in round 20. It came down to the wire and we defended our line for what felt like an age to hold on for a 16-8 win.
We gained confidence from that and then performed in a similar way against Souths the next week. We weren't winning by 30 points, but we got the job done.
That gritty style can be the cornerstone of our game. A fair chunk of our pre-season was dedicated to our defensive structures and combinations.
In the past, Bulldogs teams have been known as strong defensive units and that's what we're aiming to become. We want to create our own legacy, but those great Canterbury-Bankstown sides have certainly inspired us.
All the players have bought into what our coach Dean Pay is driving. He's put his stamp on the club over the past few seasons. He and his coaching staff have evolved and learnt from the tough periods.
Deano always leads by his actions. He's a really hard worker and an equally good person who truly cares about the players. That's why the squad wants to play for him.
Match Highlights: Eels v Bulldogs
I've evolved as a captain too. I'm learning to get the best out of individuals, figuring out how they respond to certain things. I'm not saying I'm great at it, but I'm aware of it and adapting.
First and foremost, I have to put in consistent performances before asking that of other players. I have to make sure I'm respected by leading with my actions.
It might sound like a cliché, but I seriously haven't thought one bit about playing rep footy again. It's nice when those honours come, but all my energy is going into the Bulldogs and what we're building.
I desperately want the club to be successful. Everyone in the organisation deserves it – we owe it to the fans, sponsors, coaching and admin staff and past players.
They've made the club what it is.