In Des Hasler’s first season at Belmore the Bulldogs won 18 games and the minor premiership. Since then the Bulldogs have finished 6th, 7th, 5th and 7th in what feels like some significant underachieving. They did make a Grand Final in 2014 but mainly this side feels like it has been treading water, hence some discontent in the Bulldogs’ boardroom at the end of 2016.
The Bulldogs did basically zero off season recruitment with Richie Kennar, of all people, being the only new recruit likely to make the round 1 17. That means that this side needs to play a lot better than they have over the last four years. The Bulldogs have 11 players that are former, current or probably future internationals or Origin players and it is really hard to pin point why this team plays worse than they do on paper year after year. And that’s why a lot of pressure will be on Des Hasler with his contract expiring at the end of this season.
The Bulldogs other problem is the middle of the table gets tighter every year. The Knights, Sea Eagles and Dragons will probably struggle but all the other sides that missed the eight last season could put serious pressure on the Bulldogs if they don’t play better.
Sam Perrett, Curtis Rona and Tony Williams are the notable departures from last season. T-Rex missed most of 2016 anyway and the Bulldogs have Kennar to come onto one wing and a fit Brett Morris on the other.
2016 Positional Minute Splits
When your starting props are James Graham and Aiden Tolman you’re going to get lots of minutes out of your starting props. That prop minute average of 59.6 is almost seven minutes more than the next team. Smart juggling of the interchanges allows Des Hasler to regularly rest everybody in his forward pack apart from the starting hooker. Josh Jackson was the only Bulldogs forward apart from Michael Lichaa to play 80 minutes in at least half the games they played (he played 80 in 12 of 22 games).
If either of the Bulldogs’ halves get injured expect to see a cash cow, generally though the Bulldogs have decent depth.
Average Fantasy Points Allowed Per Position
The Bulldogs were a pretty good fantasy match-up at most positions last season. They gave up a lot of points to opponent halves while completing shutting down opponent fullbacks.
Key Fantasy Changes
David Klemmer looks in line for the full time role at lock this season after spending 13 games in the role last year. His overall average was 45 but at lock he was 48.5. There could be a new face as the fourth forward interchange but this a mop up role that won’t make for a good cash cow.