Bulldogs fans watched offseason events through the hands covering their faces after the club continued to embarrass itself through salary cap mismanagement and everyone got the answer to a question nobody asked – what does Dylan Napa’s O-face look like?
So, let this Bulldogs fan take you on a tour of Canterbury’s 2019 prospects. What could possibly go wrong?
Check out all our pre-season content below:
2019 GAINS & LOSSES
Gains: Jack Cogger (Newcastle Knights, 2020), Christian Crichton (Penrith Panthers, 2021), Corey Harawira-Naera (Penrith Panthers, 2022), Nick Meaney (Newcastle Knights, 2021), James Roumanos (Cronulla Sharks, 2021), Chris Smith (Sydney Roosters, 2020), Sauaso Sue (Wests Tigers, 2020), Dylan Napa (2021)
Losses: Greg Eastwood (released), Asipeli Fine (released), Matt Frawley (Huddersfield Giants), David Klemmer (Newcastle Knights), Moses Mbye (Wests Tigers), Brett Morris (Sydney Roosters), Josh Morris (Cronulla Sharks), Clay Priest (released), Aaron Woods (Cronulla Sharks), Zac Woolford (Newcastle Knights)
Plenty of roster turnover at Belmore, with a number highly-priced and highly-decorated players making way for fringe first graders and youngsters eyeing an opportunity. The losses are headlined by Klemmer, Woods, Mbye and the Morris twins, with their replacements all young and/or unproven outside of Dylan Napa. Greg Eastwood’s roster spot has been taken by Sauaso Sue, who is walking proof that you don’t always need size, talent or skill to make it in the NRL.Napa slots into the vacant prop position, with the other big change to the starting side likely to be Nick Meaney getting first crack at fullback. Crichton will challenge Montoya for a wing spot, with Cogger, Harawira-Naera and Sue almost certainly having to settle for interchange roles.
LIKELY STARTING 17
1 Nick Meaney, 2. Marcelo Montoya, 3. Will Hopoate, 4. Kerrod Holland, 5. Reimis Smith, 6. Lachlan Lewis, 7. Kieran Foran, 8. Dylan Napa, 9. Michael Lichaa, 10. Aiden Tolman, 11. Josh Jackson, 12. Raymond Faitala-Mariner 13. Rhyse Martin.Interchange: 14. Jack Cogger, 15. Corey Harawira-Naera, 16. Adam Elliott, 17. Sauaso Sue
Who’s left: Brandon Wakeham, Chris Smith, Christian Crichton, Danny Fualalo, Fa’Amanu Brown, Francis Tualau, Jeremy Marshall-King, Jayden Okunbor, John Olive, Morgan Harper, Ofahiki Ogden, Renouf To’omaga, Zac Saddler.
Teams they play twice: Storm, Rabbitohs, Dragons, Broncos, Cowboys, Tigers, Eels, Knights
Teams they play once: Titans, Sea Eagles, Warriors, Raiders, Sharks, Panthers, Roosters
First five games: Warriors (A), Eels (H), Tigers (A), Storm (A), Dragons (A)
Yikes. What a brutal start to the season, with four away games including trips to New Zealand and Melbourne in the first five. The Rabbitohs await in Round 6 as well, so the Dogs might be out of contention by Easter Weekend. For one of the best supported and historically best-run clubs in the competition, that is simply unacceptable. If they lose at home to rivals Parramatta, a 0-6 start isn’t out of the question.
At least they play the first bye round – but it’s against the Raiders and their fleet of English and non-Origin playing stars. Double yikes.
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Below we have provided in the individual player grades as per our 2019 Mega Guide
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Rhyse Martin ($634,300, Position: 2RF, 2018 Average: 68)
2019 Mega Guide Rating – A (if selected)
Full credit to TV’s Trent Copeland (@copes9), he called God 2.0 before Martin had even set foot in the NRL. Except for Corey Parker never kicked 94 percent of his attempts at goal…not even close.
Despite some high-profile cases in recent years, I’ve never really subscribed to the second season syndrome idea that many Supercoaches believe in. While there is a possibility of the back row logjam at Belmore compromising Martin’s minutes and therefore value, he isn’t just a Supercoach stud – alongside captain Josh Jackson, he’s the best player at the club.
Just give me a moment to stare blankly at the screen as I contemplate cheering on this rabble for 24 games…
Okay, I’m back. Martin has a phenomenal work rate, averaging 47 points in base (excluding Round 24’s injury-affected 17 minutes). Add the goal kicking to that and he’s a gun before you even factor in tackle busts, offloads, and any attacking stats.
Aiden Tolman: (Price: $471,400, Position: FRF, 2018 Average: 50)
2019 Mega Guide Rating – B
The last man standing of the Bulldogs big-minute middle workhorses, after the departure of Klemmer, Woods, and Graham in the last year. With Dylan Napa down to 42 and 47MPG in the past two seasons, the path is clear for Tolman’s minutes to average in the low 60’s.
I believe he’s 8-10PPG underpriced, which makes him a fine, if unspectacular, option in the early rounds to help you build bank while delivering scores just short of gun range.
Raymond Faitala-Mariner ($543,400, Position: 2RF, 2018 Average: 58)
2019 Mega Guide Rating – C
A reliable 80-minute edge player for the first 15 rounds last season, RFM was a candidate for cheapie of the year before he went down with a season-ending injury. Unfortunately for him, the Dogs went and stocked up on back-row players, including Corey Harawira-Naera, putting his minutes at serious risk. Look for output a little closer to his 2015 stat line of 39PPG while averaging 54 minutes. That’s Scott Sorenson performance on a Sam Burgess budget. Pass.
Will Hopoate ($556,000, Position: FLB/CTW, 2018 Average: 59)
2019 Mega Guide Rating – C
While the term “popular POD” is an oxymoron, if there was such a thing Will Hopoate was probably it last year. He snuck into quite a few final squads last season after his 135-point effort in Round 18, only to follow up with a relatively disappointing 5RA of 53 as the base stats dried up. Most sources have Hoppa playing centre this year, making him even less attractive an option. Take a gamble on an outside back whose team will score more points than the Dogs.
Michael Lichaa ($463,700, Position: HOK, 2018 Average: 50)
2019 Mega Guide Rating – D
Hooker is possibly the most wide-open Supercoach position this season, with the question marks hanging over the guns sending many coaches scrambling for a POD option. Last year was supposed to be the season Lichaa was let off the leash after his family was vocal in criticising Des Hasler’s handling of the 25-year old. An increased PPM (0.78) and average (50PPG) might have some wondering if he is ready to break out, but for me, it’s a hard pass (much like Lichaa from dummy half).
Nick Meaney ($281,500, Position: FLB, 2018 Average: 38)
2019 Mega Guide Rating – B
Much like Jesse Ramien in 2017, Meaney’s path to cheapie superstardom was hampered by snagging attacking stats in a handful of games toward the end of the season. But, unlike Ramien at the start of last season, Meaney is still affordable at $281k.
Indications are that Meaney will start at fullback in Round 1 but don’t expect Hopoate-like numbers from the youngster, who averaged just 18 points in base in his five games. If the Dogs are as toothless in attack as in 2018, Meaney might be a maybe, not a must have, in your side.
Morgan Harper ($168,100, Position: CTW, 2018 Average: NA)
2019 Mega Guide Rating – D
Harper is an outside chance at jagging one of the Morris twins’ spots in Round 1 but is more likely one to watch when the inevitable injuries or loss of form hit mid-year. Many keen Bulldogs fans rate him the best young outside back the club has had in years.
While he was a late inclusion in the Bulldogs top 30 squad, Dean Pay proved that is not an impediment to playing time last season, with Jeremy Marshall-King only coming into the top 30 after Moses Suli was sacked in the preseason.
Check out all of our other 2019 Club Previews below: