Here is all you need to know about the Canterbury Bulldogs ahead of the 2022 Telstra Premiership season.
Since playing finals in 2016 the Bulldogs have finished 13th, 13th, 15th, 15th and 16th so they have a huge mountain to climb even with their shiny new line-up. Trent Barrett’s men will certainly be more potent out wide and more powerful up the middle but it will take time to gel so perhaps a jump to ninth or 10th is a realistic goal in 2022.
Possible best 17
1. Matt Dufty, 2. Josh Addo-Carr, 3. Brent Naden, 4. Braidon Burns, 5. Corey Allan, 6. Matt Burton, 7. Jake Averillo, 8. Luke Thompson, 9. Jeremy Marshall-King, 10. Paul Vaughan, 11. Raymond Faitala-Mariner, 12. Tevita Pangai jnr, 13. Josh Jackson, 14. Bailey Biondi-Odo, 15. Jack Hetherington, 16. Ava Seumanufagai, 17. Corey Waddell.
Not much of note… besides the new backs, new forwards, new playmakers and almost half of last year's top 30 moved on, including Nick Cotric who was released in December to return to his former club Canberra. From the new faces, Josh Addo-Carr, Matt Burton, Paul Vaughan, Matt Dufty and Tevita Pangai jnr should walk into the starting 13 while Brent Naden and Braidon Burns are both in the mix. Two of the new starters are spine players so the revamped squad could take a bit of time to gel, while it will be an almost entirely new three-quarter line and new-look pack.
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After two operations on his foot and a gruelling rehabilitation, Raymond Faitala-Mariner is hopeful of being ready to go in round one. After playing every game in 2020, Faitala-Mariner was cut down just two weeks into 2021 so he’ll be champing at the bit to get back on the field and add to the Dogs’ forward depth. Aaron Schoupp (shoulder) and Max King (achilles) are tracking well after surgery and should be right for the pre-season trials but back-rower Matt Doorey looks set to be sidelined until the middle of the year as he recovers from an ACL injury.
Biggest question mark
Who partners Matt Burton in the halves? Averillo has made strides there but can play other spots, Kyle Flanagan is in his last year at the club and looking to earn himself a deal (whether at the Dogs or elsewhere) for 2023, Biondi-Odo looks a serious prospect but also covers several spots and Brandon Wakeham is still at the club too. Some experimentation is warranted but Trent Barrett won't want to still be chopping and changing his halves come mid-season.
The Dogs kick off with a month of Sundays. After a long trip to humid Townsville to open the season they play the Broncos at home and Manly at 4Pines before a tough trip to Melbourne. There's no way to sugar coat it, even two wins from the opening four would be a great result for Trent Barrett's men.
Starting with that round four trip to Melbourne, the Dogs have a nightmare five-game that goes Storm (away), Panthers (home), Souths (away but at Stadium Australia), Broncos (away) and Roosters (home). Even with a big improvement from last year, the Dogs will be doing well to win more than one or two of those.
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Make it count
Canterbury's best chance to go on a bit of a run starts towards the end of the Origin period, with a seven-game run from round 15-22 (including a bye) against the Tigers, Sharks, Rabbitohs, Titans, Knights, Cowboys and Warriors. Five of the seven games are at home, four of the seven are against bottom-eight sides from last year and of the seven only Souths made the top six in 2021.
NRL Fantasy: Bulldogs 2022 prices
Josh Jackson: EDG/MID, $760,000
Luke Thompson: MID, $695,000
Tevita Pangai Junior: MID/EDG, $668,000
Paul Vaughan: MID, $624,000
Jeremy Marshall-King: HOK, $596,000
Matt Burton: HLF/CTR, $593,000
Jake Averillo: HLF/CTR, $559,000
Jackson Topine: EDG, $550,000
Josh Addo-Carr: WFB, $530,000
Matthew Dufty: WFB, $521,000
Kyle Flanagan: HLF, $517,000
Corey Waddell: EDG, $507,000
Braidon Burns: CTR, $431,000
Jack Hetherington: MID, $424,000
Aaron Schoupp: CTR, $411,000
Bailey Biondi-Odo: HLF, $410,000
Raymond Faitala-Mariner: EDG, $400,000
Ava Seumanufagai: MID, $392,000
Brandon Wakeham: HLF, $383,000
Sione Katoa: HOK/MID, $380,000
Jayden Okunbor: WFB, $377,000
Brent Naden: CTR, $317,000
Chris Patolo: EDG, $300,000
Corey Allan: WFB/CTR, $279,000
Matt Doorey: EDG, $276,000
Joe Stimson: EDG, $240,000
Joshua Cook: HOK, $240,000
Max King: MID, $240,000
Paul Alamoti: CTR, $220,000