Written by Oliver Kellner-Dunk
In 2021, the Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs were tipped to improve immensely after making a plethora of new signings but to the surprise of many regressed to the point of wooden spooners.
The club is receiving an almost identical level of hype ahead of the 2022 NRL season as they have once again dived heavily into the transfer market, but the question this time around is if they will finally be able to live up to the hype.
Josh Addo-Carr is one of the NRL’s most prolific try-scorers and is an Australian International who will be looking to continue crossing the line with consistency in the blue and white of the Bulldogs.
Braidon Burns had emerged as one of South Sydney’s most promising young stars in 2017 and the coming years became a regular member of their first-grade squad before a knee dislocation in 2020 saw the 25-year-old on the sidelines for nearly a full year. He will be looking to reignite his career with a fresh start at the Bulldogs.
Premiership winner Matt Burton will move back into the five-eighth role full-time at the Bulldogs, as the club hopes he will continue his rise to stardom in the blue and white for years to come.
Joshua Cook is a prospect at hooker who in recent years has been mentored by Australian International number nine Damien Cook and will be looking to become a consistent first grader in 2022.
The Dragons were happy to let fullback Matt Dufty go at the end of last season, giving the 26-year-old a point to prove at his new club the Bulldogs in 2022 as he looks to earn an extension on his one-year-deal.
Reece Hoffman is a 20-year-old outside back with an opportunity to prove he is one of the NRL’s brightest young stars in 2022 as he looks for a chance to play in the NRL with the Bulldogs after playing for the Western Suburbs Magpies NSW Cup side in 2021.
Max King has failed to hold down a spot in the NRL thus far, but at 24-years-old still has a chance to make it in first grade, especially at a club like the Bulldogs who are looking to shake things up in their front row.
Former Panther Brent Naden was once one of the game’s most exciting young prospects who now has the chance to fulfil his potential.
TEVITA PANGAI JUNIOR
Tevita Pangai Junior was one of the most improved players in the NRL last season but, regardless, was released by the Brisbane Broncos and can now continue his rise as a key component of the Bulldogs’ forward pack.
Paul Vaughan has consistently been one of the NRL’s best props in recent years but will be looking to save his career at the Bulldogs after an off-field incident saw him released from the Dragons.
KEY QUESTIONS HEADING INTO 2022
WHO WILL BE THE HALFBACK?
The Bulldogs still find themselves without a clear cut halfback for the upcoming NRL season, with Kyle Flanagan not living up to expectations in 2021 and Jake Averillo not being experienced in the role.
Nevertheless, these two are the top contenders for the role this season and the club is hopeful one of them will excel in the role.
WILL MATT BURTON LIVE UP TO THE HYPE?
Matt Burton was superb when playing in the centres for the 2021 NRL premiers the Penrith Panthers, but did admittedly look a little exposed when playing in the halves without a true game controller such as Nathan Cleary alongside him.
He will be under immense pressure to grow into a player who can lead his side in attack at the Bulldogs, with his performance to be a huge influence on where the club finished on the ladder this season.
WILL UNREALISTIC EXPECTATIONS COST BARRETT HIS JOB?
Trent Barrett will be hoping the high expectations many have for his club in 2022 will decide whether he keeps his job or not beyond the end of the season.
A display of improvement with more to follow in the coming years should be enough for the former Dally M Medal winner to keep his job, but the power brokers at the Bulldogs may be looking for more success in the short term.
1. Matt Dufty
2. Josh Addo-Carr
3. Brent Naden
4- Braidon Burns
5. Corey Allan
6. Matt Burton
7. Kyle Flanagan
8. Luke Thompson
9. Joshua Cook
10. Paul Vaughan
11. Tevita Pangai Junior
12. Corey Waddell
13. Josh Jackson ©
14. Jake Averillo
15. Jack Hetherington
16. Ava Seumanufagai
17. Raymond Faitala-Mariner