Canterbury Bulldogs

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Canterbury Bulldogs 2017 Preview

  • Signings & Losses
  • Player Rankings
  • Strongest 17
  • Close Results Record
  • The Professor’s Prediction
  • Your Prediction


Signings & Losses

Signings: Brenko Lee (Canberra – C), Richard Kennar (Melbourne – C)

Just two significant signings with both capable of playing in the centers or on the wing. The Professor thinks Lee will displace Kerrod Holland for the center position up for grabs while Kennar will be fighting for a spot on the wing.

Losses: Sam Perrett (Retired – W), Tony Williams (Cronulla – SR), Curtis Rona (Union – W), Tim Browne (Penrith – P)

The Bulldogs have lost both their regular starting wingers from 2016. One will be replaced by superstar Brett Morris while there are up to 4 options on the other. Both Williams & Browne didn’t exactly set the world alight in 2016 but both were regulars on the bench and are yet to replaced. Des had better have some forwards hidden away otherwise this could spell trouble.


Player Rankings

Will Hopoate was renowned in his juniors as a fullback but has struggled to play this position playing the majority one the wing or in the centers in previous seasons. In 2016 Hopoate was ranked 18th among fullbacks (the 3rd worst among regular fullbacks) with his playmaking ability bringing him down. He shouldn’t need to worry in 2017 though with B.Morris coming back from injury to resume the position.

An under 20’s superstar who joined the Bulldogs in 2016 – Brad Abbey – is yet to see first-grade action. At 19 years of age its a matter of when not if, we will see this man in the blue and white.

Reimis Smith made a stellar debut to his NRL debut scoring a double on debut! A try with your 1st touch is a thing dreams are made of although I’m sure he would change all that for a regular spot in first grade. The 19-year-old holds the number 1 rank among wingers in 2016 all be it with 1 solidarity game. Smith will be challenging a number of players for the 2 wing spots available in 2017.

An Australian and New South Wales representative every day of the week, the only issue is keeping him on the park. We speak of none other than Brett Morris. Taking the 5th ranking among wingers is no surprise to anyone but he managed only 11 games in 2016. Averaging the 3rd most line break and 3rd most tries among wingers B.Morris was damaging when on the field. In 2017 the Bulldogs will be hoping he can stay on the field and make the fullback position his own.

Brenko Lee joins the Bulldogs after a standout season for the Raiders, all bit it from limited games. Naturally a center Lee could only find his way into the NRL side on the wing although this did not hinder his performance taking out the 10th ranking among wingers. Averaging close to a try a game The Professor couldn’t understand how cousin Edrick kept him out of first grade. With two representative centers ahead of him at the Bulldogs, he will need to settle on the wing for the meantime but will at least now secure a regular first-grade spot.

Rounding out the wingers is Tyrone Phillips ranked 15 among wingers in 2016 – that’s 4 players from the same club ranked among the top 15 wingers in 2016! Considered a utility back Phillips is yet to let anyone down when given a chance in the NRL and The Professor can’t understand for the life of him why he hasn’t been given more of an opportunity. With just 6 NRL games to his name the 23-year-old managed more tackle breaks, line breaks and meters per hit-up than the average winger. In saying this the Bulldogs are chock-a-block full of wingers and may find himself within NSW Cup once again…

Richard Kennar joins the Bulldogs after an injury-riddled 2016 at the Storm. Ranked number 1 among centers in 2016 Kennar was in phenomenal form before getting struck down with injury averaging more line breaks and try assists than any other centre. Playing 3 games though doesn’t give a great indication and with a representative center pairing above him, Kennar will find himself fighting for a wing spot with up to six other.

Coming off a career-best season in 2015 – ranked 7th – Josh Morris had an average 2016 – ranked 20th among centers. J.Morris’s was displaced as State of Origin regular managing just the one match as an injury replacement. His ability to put a player through the line is still a major strength of his game – ranked 3rd for average line break assists. The same can’t be said of his tackle efficiency which was the main reason he was selected for NSW. The Professor can’t see J.Morris playing Origin in 2017 and unfortunately thinks his past his best.

Injury after injury after injury. Chase Stanley just cannot get a break playing just 19 games over the last 3 seasons. Managing just 4 games in 2016 sees Stanley take the 25th rank among centers. Stanley (if fit) will be competing for a spot on the wing and if he can stay injury free he will be as good as a new signing for the Bulldogs.

Kerrod Holland had a memorable debut kicking the winning conversion after the siren. Goal kicking proved to be his greatest attribute with his hands greatly letting him down – averaging the 2nd most errors among centers. Holland’s defence was solid with a tackle efficiency of 91.7 but he will need to improve his attack if he wants to be an NRL regular. The 24-year-old will be the first in-line should either Hopoate or J.Morris get injured but that’s just about the only way he will see any NRL action in 2017.

The man nicknamed ‘grub’ – Josh Reynolds – had a solid 2016 without producing anything spectacular. Ranked 7th among five-eights Reynolds came under fire from the media for his lack of creativity which the Professor thinks is valid. Renowned as a running five-eight Reynolds will need to improve this aspect of his game as both B.Morris and Lichaa lack playmaking ability while Mbye can’t carry all the responsibility. If the Bulldogs are to make the top 8 Reynolds will need to be on top of his game.

Moses Mbye enters 2017 off the back of his best season yet in 2016 – ranked 6th among halfbacks. Mbye lead the way for the Bulldogs in both try assists and line break assists with little assistance from his five-eight. Much like Reynolds if the Bulldogs are to make the 8 these 2 must lead the team across the park and take charge inside the opposition’s 20. After playing every game last season in the halves together in 2016 they should be getting used to each others game and in 2017 we could see them reach their true potential.

Regarded by many experts as the greatest prop in the game and doesn’t he have the stats to back it up taking the #1 rank among props. We, of course, are talking of the workhorse James Graham. Graham’s consistency has seen him ranked, 1st, 6th, and 4th in the last three seasons. Averaging more minutes than any other prop Graham also topped the charts when it came to hit-ups while making the 2nd most tackles and run meters. A real leader in the forward pack with a great consistency.

Aiden Tolman is also an extremely consistent forward backing up his 4th and 8th rank in 2015 and 2014 respectively with the 6th rank in 2016. Tolman boasts the best tackle efficiency of any prop to play 10 games or more in 2016 whilst being above average in all the major fields for a prop. An extremely underrated player in The Professor’s eyes Tolman will continue to do what he does best in 2017.

Sam Kasiano will nearly be unidentifiable in 2017 losing a massive amount of weight in order to increase his minutes. Known for his impact off the bench the 59th ranked prop in 2016 will be hoping his ability to break the line and produce an offload won’ be lost. It will be interesting to see the new role the man named ‘Dogzilla’ plays in 2017 and if his minutes will now increase.

With the departure of 2 NRL regulars in the forward pack, Danny Fualalo will need to step up and make a greater impact in 2017. Ranked 84th among props Fualalo was the 3rd worst prop to play 10 games or more. A low amount of minutes attributes to this rank as his meters per hit-up and tackle efficiency are above the average. The bench is the Bulldogs biggest weakness going into 2017 and this man will need to lift.

Michael Lichaa was supposed to be the next big thing when signed by the Bulldogs but after 2 poor seasons, he is now just an average NRL player. Named within the NYC team of the year in both 2012 and 2013 the 23-year-old has time on his side to make amends but he will need to take the line or more to boost his attacking game. Lichaa’s defensive game is his greatest asset averaging the 2nd most tackles within the hooker department while having an above average tackle efficiency. Coming off contract look for Lichaa to show his worth.

Reserve hooker Craig Garvey made 10 appearances in his first season in the blue and white. Used as an impact player Garvey took out the 24th rank and will be pushing Lichaa throughout 2017. Garvey much like Lichaa is a solid player without any major attributes to his game. May find himself within NSW Cup for the majority of the season.

Garlick, Frawley and Woolford have all been promoted to the Bulldogs NRL Pre-Season squad and will be putting pressure on those above them to make their NRL debut. Woolford is the most likely to break into the side after being nominated for the Dally M Holden Cup player of the year award in 2016.

NSW representative Josh Jackson is one of the first men on the teamsheet every week for Des. Putting his heart and soul on the line every week Jackson took out the 22nd rank among second rowers. Selected in all 3 State of Origin matches in 2016 you would think he would be further up the rankings but his running game really lets him down – averaging fewer meters per run while being on average for tackle breaks and line breaks compared to other second rowers. A vital part of the Bulldogs cog and will eventually be captain of the club.

Greg Eastwood had a disappointing 2016 by his standards taking out the 49th rank among second-rowers. Much the same to Jackson he was below average for meters per run and tackle efficiency while being just above average for all run meters, tackle breaks and line breaks. At 30 years of age, he should be reaching the peak of his career although this hasn’t been the case and the Professor doesn’t see how his game can improve in 2017.

A mid-season addition Raymond Faitala-Mariner was immediately put within the NRL side. Ranked 73rd among second-rowers Mariner didn’t provide the spark the Bulldogs were hoping for. Mariner was in line or below for all stats in 2016 with his greatest attribute being his offload ability. He will need to bring more to his game in 2017 if he is to continue as an NRL regular.

Another mid-season recruit Asipeli Fine managed to take the 79th ranking after 4 games. Fine, a former center, proved to be a dynamic runner when he got the ball but just didn’t the ball in his hands enough. His tackling wasn’t of an NRL standard and he will need to improve this aspect of his game if he wants to see more time in the first-gradee side.

Adam Elliot had a debut season to forget taking out the 85th rank among second-rowers. Ranked last for second-rowers to play 5 games or more Elliot ranked last in meters per run and 3rd last in tackle efficiency. The stats show he just wasn’t of an NRL standard and according to The Professor he shouldn’t be seen in the NRL again.

Renouf To’omaga and Rhyse Martin are the other second rowers within the squad and both should see some time in the NRL in 2017 with some of the options above not being worthy of another NRL jumper.

Known as an impact player off the bench David Klemmer made a name for himself in the lock position and won’t be leaving it anytime soon. Ranked 3rd among locks Klemmer was a beast in 2016. Among locks, Klemmer averaged the 2nd most run meters, 3rd most meters per run, and 6th best tackle efficiency. The 23-year-old has already established himself as an NSW and Australia regular and The Professor can’t see him losing these positions any time in the next 5 years.


Player Age 2016 Position 2016 Games Played 2016 Position Rank
Richard Kennar 23 C 3 1
Josh Morris 31 C 23 20
Chase Stanley 28 C 4 25
Kerrod Holland 25 C 14 31
Jayden Okunbor 20 C DNP DNP
Will Hopoate 25 FB 21 18
Bradley Abbey 21 FB DNP DNP
Josh Reynolds 28 FE 25 7
Adam Keighran 20 FE DNP DNP
Josh Cleeland 26 FE DNP DNP
Moses Mbye 24 HB 25 6
Michael Lichaa 24 HK 22 16
Craig Garvey 24 HK 10 24
Bronson Garlick 22 HK DNP DNP
Matt Frawley 23 HK DNP DNP
Zac Woolford 21 HK DNP DNP
David Klemmer 24 LK 22 3
James Graham 32 P 25 1
Aiden Tolman 29 P 25 6
Sam Kasiano 27 P 23 59
Danny Fualalo 23 P 11 84
Francis Tualau 23 P DNP DNP
Josh Jackson 26 SR 23 22
Greg Eastwood 30 SR 18 49
Raymond Faitala-Mariner 24 SR 15 73
Asipeli Fine 25 SR 4 79
Adam Elliot 23 SR 7 85
Renouf To’omaga 22 SR DNP DNP
Rhyse Martin 24 SR DNP DNP
Reimis Smith 20 W 1 1
Brett Morris 31 W 11 5
Brenko Lee 22 W 9 10
Tyrone Phillips 23 W 5 15
Tom Carr 22 W DNP DNP

Strongest 17

1. Brett Morris
2. Brenko Lee
3. Will Hopoate
4. Josh Morris
5. Tyrone Phillips
6. Josh Reynolds
7. Moses Mbye
8. Aiden Tolman
9. Michael Lichaa
10. James Graham
11. Josh Jackson
12. Greg Eastwood
13. David Klemmer

14. Danny Fualalo
15. Craig Garvey
16. Raymond Faitala-Mariner
17. Sam Kasiano

Close Results Record

Wins: 6
Losses: 2

The Professor’s Prediction

The Bulldogs have come under massive scrutiny from the media with Des Hasler’s job reportingly on the line and The Professor thinks its all for good reason. Canterbury boasts a team full of rep stars but have little depth past the starting 13 and any injuries will see them come unstuck in 2017. There won’t be much between 6th and 14th such is the strength of all sides in 2017 but The Professor, unfortunately, sees the dogs near the bottom of this group. Hasler to leave, Graham certain to have another blow up and the Bulldogs to sit near the bottom of the NRL ladder.

Verdict – 13th

Your Prediction