Kyle Flanagan is fighting to regain his position in the Bulldogs first grade side, with insiders claiming he’s ready to “do whatever it takes” to earn back his spot as club patsy.
But coach Trent Barrett has given the 22-year-old no guarantees on a recall, promising to continue dumping him until he turns around the club’s misfiring offense, and its decision to retain Brent Sherwin over Johnathon Thurston 15 years ago.
Flanagan is stuck on the fringes in the midst of Canterbury’s record streak of mediocrity, with its last moment of genuine contentment predating his childhood way back in 2004 BC (Before Castle).
The halfback has not been sighted in the top side since being demoted two weeks ago for extinguishing Barrett’s attacking genius, a notorious phenomenon which shone brightly at the heavily-resourced Panthers but not at Manly with the scant facilities of a solitary Tom Trbojevic.
Flanagan was denounced for not “running the ball more”, despite the side only holding on to it for approximately seven minutes per game, a total that includes warm-up and ball boys.
Furthermore, it was rumoured Bulldogs officials had grown impatient with their new recruit after he was generously afforded nine games without resolving the club’s boardroom war.
But, despite the axing, Barrett threw his support behind Flanagan by labelling him his “number-one long-term lamb to the slaughter” which he reaffirmed by feeding him like a piece of two-minute steak to a waiting press pack of piranhas.
He also praised the 39-gamer for competently fulfilling his brief as a like-for-like replacement after superbly back-filling the absent role left by departed fall guy Dean Pay.
Barrett has also since named the former Rooster in his extended 21-man squad for this Saturday’s match against the Gold Coast, presumably so he can be dropped an hour before kick-off as punishment for Des Hasler signing Tony Williams.
However, the axing for the Raiders clash ultimately failed to bear fruit for Barrett, with his men falling short against undermanned opposition thanks chiefly to Flanagan’s minimal impact from the sideline.
Flanagan’s ostracising at the Dogs follows his curious axing from the Roosters last year, with the powerhouse club cutting him adrift after destroying their three-peat by scoring too many points and not being Cooper Cronk.
This elevated the goal-kicking playmaker to rugby league’s vast halls of halfback Cancel Culture, a concept whereby an entire club’s woes are blamed on the playmaker – unless that playmaker is Luke Brooks.
At the current rate of condemnation, Flanagan could join names like Mitchell Pearce, Ben Hunt and Brett Kimmorley, the latter who is still ignored by window washers at traffic lights for an errant cut-out pass over a decade ago.
Flanagan’s fine reputation means he is never short of offers, with recent reports linking him to the Sharks after the club made a series of abysmal administrative decisions that require accountability.
However, it is unclear if Flanagan remains in the Bulldogs’ long-term plans or if he is simply keeping the seat warm until the Panthers end the Matt Burton stalemate, a painful wait for the Bankstown-based club that coincidentally is also Flanagan’s doing.