Written by Oliver Kellner-Dunk
Back in 1980 the Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs were dubbed Rugby League’s “Entertainers” as they won their third premiership.
It is one of many nicknames the Bulldogs have held over the years and one that so many fans want to be able to call them again. The Entertainers cruised their way to an 18-4 victory over the Eastern Suburbs Roosters in the Grand Final after playing with an attractive style for the time.
Former player and member of the 1980 Bulldogs side Graeme Hughes reflected on The Entertainers in an interview with The Daily Telegraph in 2020 for the 40th anniversary of their Grand Final victory.
“We pretty much had the same team week in, week out from pretty much halfway through the year to the finals,” said Hughes.
“There was a real bond.
“It’s one of our greatest eras because of the romance of it and I’d like to think it was one of the most important turning points in the club’s history.”
At the beginning of 2022 the Bulldogs looked a far cry from The Entertainers of old, as they played out many low-scoring games and losing most. That all changed when Michael Potter became the club’s interim head coach.
Potter took on the top job for the first time as the Bulldogs faced the Wests Tigers in round 11 with his side scoring at least 20 points in eight of their remaining 14 games after not scoring more than 16 points under Barrett in 2022.
During Potter’s reign, the Bulldogs looked like a completely different side that was not afraid to throw the ball around and even in defeat put on many entertaining performances.
While it may seem unfair to once again dub them The Entertainers, the Bulldogs have set in place the perfect foundation to regain the nickname in 2023.
Cameron Ciraldo may be taking over as head coach next year but Michael Potter is remaining at the Bulldogs as part of his staff which will certainly have an influence on how the team plays.
Reed Mahoney’s arrival from the Parramatta Eels also means that their halves will be getting a better level of service out of dummy half. This will allow them to execute some of their more ambitious plays more efficiently. Combined with new signing Villiame Kikau’s offloading game, Mahoney should fit in nicely to a Bulldogs side that will hopefully still look to move the ball a lot in attack next season.
The foundations have been set and everything is starting to come into place for the Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs to once again be The Entertainers of the NRL.