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Here is all you need to know about the Canterbury Bulldogs' 2021 Telstra Premiership draw.

The Lowdown

Teams they play twice

Dragons, Eels, Knights, Panthers, Rabbitohs, Sea Eagles, Sharks, Wests Tigers, Titans

Teams they play once

Broncos, Cowboys, Raiders, Roosters, Storm, Warriors

Day-by-day breakdown

Friday – 2, Saturday – 11, Sunday – 10, Monday –1

Turnarounds

5 days – 0, 6 days – 5, 7+ days – 18

Kick-off

A trip to Newcastle in round one followed by a home clash against 2020 minor premiers Penrith, a trip to Suncorp Stadium then a home clash against the Rabbitohs provides Trent Barrett with a stern examination of his off-season preparation.

Five key match-ups

Panthers (Round 2, Bankwest Stadium; Round 12, Panthers Stadium): Just two weeks in, the Bulldogs get to test themselves against the side that lost just one game through the 2020 regular season.

All eyes will be on the Dogs coaching box for this one as new clipboard-holder Trent Barrett faces off against the club he helped to the minor premiership. Barrett has also signed boom youngster Matt Burton from his old club for 2022 and beyond.

New recruit, firebrand Jack Hetherington, leads a cohort of ex-Panthers (also including Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, Corey Waddell, Christian Crichton and Sione Katoa) in the Dogs squad while Panthers hooker Api Koroisau famously snubbed the blue and whites to return to Penrith in 2020.

Rabbitohs (Round 4, ANZ Stadium; Round 18, ANZ Stadium): One of the casualties of the COVID lockdown last year was the Easter round so fans of both clubs will be eagerly anticipating the return of Good Friday footy after plenty of spirited stoushes between the two rivals in recent times.

While the Bunnies finished well above the Dogs on the ladder in 2020, an upset in round 19 was Canterbury's best effort of the year and saved them from the wooden spoon.

Eels (Round 8, ANZ Stadium; Round 15, Bankwest Stadium): This is one of the traditional rivalries of the NRL, forged in each club's highly successful decade in the 1980s and continuing through many memorable battles since.

The Eels edged the Dogs twice in 2020, including in round one, but it was a two-point loss in round 12 that really stung for the blue and whites.

Bulldogs' top five tries of 2020

Sea Eagles (Round 16, ANZ Stadium, Round 24, Lottoland): After three injury-hit seasons at Belmore, is returning Sea Eagle Kieran Foran set to torment his former club?

In partnership again with one-time Bulldogs coach Des Hasler, the duo can expect a razzing from the blue and white faithful at ANZ in round 16.

nly put more points on the Dogs last year than any other side so Barrett's defensive systems will get a workout in these two clashes. Corey Waddell will also be up against his 2020 club.

Storm (Round 5, Perth): Another COVID casualty was Canterbury's home game in Perth, originally slated for round 18 of 2020.

The blue and whites head back west in round five to take on the Storm, who dusted them 36-18 in the first NRL match at Perth Stadium in 2018. The Storm were also far too good in the only meeting between these clubs in 2020, running out 41-10 winners in round 13.

If the Dogs want to drag themselves higher on the ladder, an early win against the premiers would be a good way to do it.

Toughest stretch

Perhaps thankfully, the toughest parts of the year for travel and the toughest parts of the year for opposition fall at separate times.

For sustained games against top opponents the toughest run comes from round 15 with the Eels, Sea Eagles, Roosters, Rabbitohs and Sharks in consecutive weeks – all top-eight sides in 2020 bar Manly, who, as mentioned, were the Dogs' chief tormenter in 2020. At least those games are all at ANZ Stadium or Bankwest Stadium.

Better. Faster. Stronger.

And another thing ...

Star recruit Nick Cotric will have his work cut out for him in Magic Round up at Suncorp in round 10 against his former club.

The Bulldogs have lost their past six straight at the venue (five against Brisbane and once against the Knights in the previous Magic Round) going back to 2015, and they have lost their past four straight against the Raiders, who they haven't beaten since 2017.

 

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