In a series analysing who will line up in each position for all 16 teams in the opening round of the Telstra Premiership in 2021, NRL.com looks at the Canterbury Bulldogs.
NRL.com says: Nick Cotric is likely to start the season at centre and while Jake Averillo is a chance of pressing for a full-time move to five-eighth at some stage he is in doubt for the start of the season with an elbow injury.
Lachlan Lewis or Brandon Wakeham is likely to start the season in the halves partnering Kyle Flanagan. The other will compete with Sione Katoa for the bench utility spot.
Jayden Okunbor will miss a large chunk of the season after a knee reconstruction and Luke Thompson is suspended for the opening four rounds for an eye gouge against the Panthers in the last game of 2020.
The addition of Maroons fullback Corey Allan late in the pre-season gives them a bona fide option for the No.1 jersey with Will Hopoate and Dallin Watene-Zelezniak set to slot in at centre and wing respectively.
Jamie Soward says: Kyle Flanagan will be the mainstay in their halves but that's been a revolving door with no playmaker given the chance to grow into his role in recent years.
People expected Wakeham, Lewis and Cogger to come in and be successful straight away but most halfbacks need time.
I think Wakeham might get the start over Lewis, who can play a bit of nine or off the bench, but Wakeham and Flanagan look like the obvious pairing for me.
Their back three is good and DWZ, if he gets those one or two errors out of his game can be one of the top three or four wingers in the world.
Defensively, will Cotric at centre be able to make the reads time after time with shape? They have a bit more firepower but I don't see them moving up the ladder much.
Until they settle the halves and let them play and get some cohesiveness with the nine they're not going to be competitive.
Bulldogs in 2021
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