2013 season preview: Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs
The Bulldogs were minor premiers in 2012, and finished on the losing side in the grand final. In 2013, can they go one better this time?
Yes. Yes they can.
It doesn’t take a genius to work this one out. Their strength is their monster forward pack.
Their forwards are head and shoulders above any other in the NRL. They boast five internationals (Sam Kasiano, James Graham, Tony Williams, Frank Pritchard and Greg Eastwood).
To add to that you have Aiden Tolman, Josh Jackson and Dale Finucane, who are all future rep stars, as well as Corey Payne and of course their polarising captain Mick Ennis.
It doesn’t stop there with the Dogs having Martin Taupau, the 2010 Junior Kiwi’s Captain and the 2012 Toyota Cup player of the year, David Klemmer. He made over 4000m with the ball last year to add to his 55 offloads and 137 tackle busts.
Something that will scare most teams is that T-Rex is most likely going to be used on an edge for half a match with the other being completed by Frank Pritchard.
Their coach just happens to be pretty cluey too.
The 2012 grand final said it all. Their weakness was their halves. Trent Hodkinson was sorely missed and he must be reinstated into the starting side if they are to have a chance of going one step further in 2013.
Josh Reynolds had a great break out season last year, making it nearly impossible to leave him out of the starting side. He kicked a great 40/20 against Manly, was constantly aggressive in defence and was often found backing up Barba, Morris and co.
Naturally a hooker, which is also where he made his debut, I would play him off the bench coming on for Ennis. This would then give the starting 5/8 spot to Keating.
A potential weakness could be Inu. Or he could turn out to be a strength. Not even Inu knows how he will go but he did have a great 2012. He also proved to be a more than handy goal kicker.
With only Morris and Tony Williams likely to make Origin, the Bulldogs will have very limited changes throughout the year, giving them a great chance to maximise wins during the period.
They will win back to back minor premierships.