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Half the reward: Averillo wants playmaker role long term

Rookie Canterbury playmaker Jake Averillo wants to continue playing in the halves next season after the arrival of star recruit Matt Burton from Penrith.

Averillo, who has shifted from five-eighth to halfback for Saturday’s match against Canberra after Kyle Flanagan was dropped, began his NRL career at centre or on the wing last year but he said his preferred position was five-eighth.

"I’d like to play in the halves long term, but I am not really thinking about Matt coming at the moment," Averillo said.

"I’ve got this year to cement my position there so I am just trying to get better each week and hopefully I can keep the position. If I just play good footy hopefully Baz will pick me in the team."

After signing with the Bulldogs for next season it had been expected that Burton would partner Flanagan in the halves but he is now starring at centre for the Panthers.

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Flanagan has suffered a dramatic fall from grace after being replaced at half-time last Sunday and dropped this week.

Averillo said Flanagan had the backing of his teammates as he battles to regain his position in coming weeks but the 20-year-old is determined to perform well alongside Fiji playmaker Brandon Wakeham to try and help the Bulldogs to their second win of the season.

"We have all got a job to do as a team and it is obviously a tough position, let alone being the leader of the team at such a young age, so I just have got to keep doing my job for my team," Averillo said.

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"We will all get behind Kyle and support him. We know he has got a tough job, coming into this team as the halfback.

"It’s obviously been a tough start to the comp for us and we have got a young spine but it’s a learning curve for us and we are only going to get better from this.

"We are lacking a bit of confidence at the moment.

"You can never discount our effort, it is just about being smarter in certain areas which can build some more pressure during games and hopefully get us a win."

Veteran forward Adam Elliott and winger Nick Cotric predicted the 23-year-old halfback would bounce back.

"Kyle is a good player and off the field I like Kyle a lot too," Cotric said. "He will be fine, that is just footy and these things happen."

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With so many new faces at the club this season, Elliott said it was important for the Bulldogs to come together quickly.

"It’s a tough time and this is where teams are made or broken," Elliott said.

"We have only had one win this year and unless we do get tighter and come together it is going to be a hard finish to the season.

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"A lot of the young guys have probably come through and been the best players in their age groups, so they are probably used to being able to break the game open whenever they wanted to so I think it is a hard lesson to learn that in the NRL you have got to be on for 80 minutes.

"I think the young blokes have been great, they have injected a lot of energy and they turn up every day as a group.

"But I think it is a matter of us coming together as a team and it doesn’t matter how old you are, what jersey you used to wear or where you live."

Acknowledgement of Country

National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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