Written by Oliver Kellner-Dunk
Fans were treated to one of the upsets of the season yesterday in the last NRL game before the finals as the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs defeated the Wests Tigers 38-0 in an all-around dominant display.
The Bulldogs would lead 16-0 at half-time before kicking on with four tries in the second half, with try scorers on the day including Nick Meaney twice, Jake Averillo twice, Jack Hetherington, Jayden Okunbor and Corey Allan.
It was a great way for the club to end a disappointing season and could set the foundation for a strong 2022 at Belmore, with a plethora of new signings including new general manager Phil “Gus” Gould.
Gould has had experience both at the Bulldogs and as a club general manager before, with the 63-year-old playing for and coaching the club in the past to varying levels of success.
As a coach, Gould led Canterbury Bankstown to a premiership in 1988, as his side defeated the Balmain Tigers 24-12; however, it would not be at the Bulldogs where he made his impact as a general manager in the past.
That would come at Penrith, where Gould took on the role in 2012 and turned the club into a consistent finals side, before leaving during the 2019 season.
Canterbury-Bankstown may have secured a huge signing in Gould, but the incoming talent on the field is just as exciting, with Penrith Panthers rising star Matthew Burton signing with the Bulldogs earlier this year until the end of 2023 with an option in his favour for 2024.
Burton has had a breakout year in Penrith, scoring 16 tries, assisting 13, averaging 108 running metres per game and making 313 tackles for an efficiency rate of 85.8%, although this has in large part occurred with the 21-year-old in the centres, with Burton set to transition back to five-eighth at the Bulldogs next season.
Another signing Canterbury Bankstown has made is that of the “Foxx” Josh Addo-Carr from the Melbourne Storm, who has signed with the Bulldogs until the end of 2025 as he has been desperate for a move back to Sydney in recent years.
In 2021, the New South Wales State of Origin representative has scored 23 tries, assisted seven, made 74 tackle breaks, 28 line breaks, averaged 127 run metres per game and has made 89 tackles for an efficiency rate of 86.4%.
There was speculation that the Bulldogs would be starting him at fullback next year, right up until they made the signing of Dragons fullback Matt Dufty.
Dufty has been one of the Dragons best in recent years but was told by the club that they would not be extending his stay beyond 2021 which led to him putting pen to paper on a one-year deal with the Bulldogs.
We have seen Dufty on 15 occasions in 2021, scoring ten tries, assisting 11, making 47 tackle breaks, ten-line breaks, averaging 136 running metres per game and making 58 tackles for an efficiency rate of 75.3%.
Burton, Addo-Carr and Dufty are three amazing signings that will revitalise Canterbury Bankstown’s backline, but you may be thinking, what about the forwards?
"It's been a hard year. It means a lot, it can spring board us into our pre-season next year. It was great it meant enough to them to send some players off on a really good note." – Trent Barrett.
— Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs (@NRL_Bulldogs) September 5, 2021
Don’t worry, they have splashed the cash there too.
After being released by the Dragons during the regular season, Paul Vaughan was handed a lifeline by the Bulldogs for season 2022, and up until his release, the former Australian International was having a good season and was on the cusp of a Blues State of Origin recall.
The Bulldogs have also signed current Panther and former Bronco Tevita Pangai Junior who has had somewhat of a career renaissance in 2021, scoring five tries, making 55 tackle breaks, averaging 115.2 run metres per game and making 472 tackles for an efficiency rate of 92.7%, with the Tongan International signing with the Bulldogs until the end of 2024.
1. Matthew Dufty
2. Josh Addo-Carr
3. Aaron Schupp
4. Nick Cotric
5. Jayden Okunbor
6. Matt Burton
7. Kyle Flanagan
8. Luke Thompson
9. Jeremy Marshall-King
10. Jack Hetherington
11. Tevita Pangai Junior
12. Josh Jackson
13. Adam Elliott
14. Jake Averillo
15. Paul Vaughan
16. Ava Seumanufagai
17. Raymond Faitala-Mariner