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2010 Season Preview - Canterbury Bulldogs

February 11th 2010 07:18
Under new coach Kevin Moore – son of former club patriarch, the late Peter Moore – the Bulldogs reclaimed their status as the “family club” with the addition of several high-quality footballers with high morals. The result was one of the great turnarounds in premiership history. After finishing with the wooden spoon in 2009, the Bulldogs were unlucky to miss out on the minor premiership and pushed Parramatta all the way in the preliminary final. The club will revert to the name Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs in 2010 for the first time since 1994, coinciding with their 75th anniversary as a premiership side.


Strengths

The Bulldogs immediately gelled last season despite a completely new-look line-up. The combinations they forged to such great effect in 2009 will flourish with another off-season under their belts. Several players in key positions are in career-best form, while Ben Hannant, Josh Morris and Bryson Goodwin experienced Test football for the first time in the 2009 Four Nations. Michael Ennis was unlucky not to join them and is one of the NRL’s most valuable players.

Weaknesses

There are not many weaknesses looking at the Bulldogs line-up, but depth in the halves could be a problem if injury strikes, particularly with the departure of reliable back-up Daniel Holdsworth. Cronulla signing Blake Green will shore up the gap to an extent. The Bulldogs’ playing stocks is also bound to be depleted by State of Origin in the middle stages of the year.

Comings and Goings

In Melbourne dual premiership-winning winger Steve Turner the Bulldogs have acquired a ready-made replacement for club legend Hazem El Masri, while exciting young Panther Junior Tia Kilifi will also be gunning for the vacant wing spot. Versatile Kiwi international Dene Halatau offsets the loss of Greg Eastwood to Leeds, and big Dragon Mickey Paea adds more depth and starch to Canterbury’s forward ranks. Several players deemed surplus to requirements have headed elsewhere, including former Test winger Matt Utai and hooker/half Michael Sullivan.


Young Guns

2009 Dally M Rookie of the Year Jamal Idris is still only 19, while livewire half Ben Barba will be pressing for more first grade opportunities after two seasons waiting in the wings. Barba spearheaded feeder club Bankstown City’s 2009 NSW Cup grand final victory with three tries. The Bulldogs National Youth Cup side finished 11th in 2009, and the club did not blood any NYC players in first grade last year.

X-factor

Brilliant but enigmatic five-eighth Ben Roberts enjoyed his best season to date in 2009, proving the perfect for No. 7 Brett Kimmorley. The diminutive former-Kiwi stamped himself as a genuine game-breaker after publicly swearing off alcohol, and shapes as a trump card for the Bulldogs in 2010.

Under Pressure

The Bulldogs have had the luxury of arguably the competition’s best goalkicker for the past 16 seasons in Daryl Halligan (1994-2000) and Hazem El Masri (2001-09). El Masri’s retirement puts the heat on Michael Ennis, Steve Turner and Brett Kimmorley to consistently convert four points into six.

Anticipated Clash

Round 8 vs Parramatta. The two sides turned on a classic preliminary final, with the Bulldogs going down bravely 22-12 to the electric Eels. These teams have a colourful history against each other and with both sides cemented as NRL powers this should be one of the games of the season.

2010 Predictions

With such a well-balanced side and an astute mentor in Dally M Coach of the Year Kevin Moore, another top-four spot beckons for the Bulldogs. The challenge will be to avoid a mid-season slump during a taxing Origin period and going a step further than 2009. Canterbury needs to avoid Parramatta becoming a bogey side for them, but are undoubtedly leading contenders for the crown.
2nd in minor premiership – beaten preliminary finallists

Best Line-up

1. Luke Patten
2. Steve Turner
3. Josh Morris
4. Jamal Idris
5. Bryson Goodwin
6. Ben Roberts
7. Brett Kimmorley
8. Ben Hannant
9. Michael Ennis
10. Michael Hodgson
11. Gary Warburton
12. Andrew Ryan (c)
13. David Stagg

14. Dene Halatau
15. Yileen Gordon
16. Jarrad Hickey
17. Chris Armit


NB: This article was originally published on Suite101.com
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1 Comments. [ Add A Comment ]

Comment by Anonymous

April 5th 2010 11:20
Well another week and another game lost buy the Bulldogs. They showed absolutely appalling defence against an out of control Rabbits side. As per usual there were 5 sets of eyes refing the game and not one of them were watching what was happening in this game. I just want to know how much south’s paid Badger to win the game for them. In the first half there were about 5 knock on’s that were so blatant and still kept the ball. The beginning of the second half was a prime example of just how poor the refing was in the game. From the kick off a knock on that would have the bull go no more than 5 meters forward by the south player. Yet play on was the call; what a joke. Although to the Bunnies defence they were the better side on the knight scoring a 38 to 16 at full time. The question raised is; would the score have been that big of a difference had Badger been watching the same game as well as the 4 other bystanders watching the same thing as Badger or did his ego get hurt when some one stated the fact that he wasn't paying attention; I don’t think so!
With a proud Russel Crow cheering his beloved Green and Red Rabbits a win is a win; well done South’s. Written by a blue and white-eyed doggies supporter.

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