The Canterbury Bulldogs are supposedly a “club in crisis” so often that when the media throws those three words in their direction, no one bats an eyelid any more.
With a thousand stupid rumours doing the rounds and their CEO leaving in August to take up a role with the NRL, the Bulldogs were facing a disastrous season, apparently…
All of that off field stuff doesn’t interest me. When you throw a group of 30+ young blokes together, there is always going to be something going on. As for Todd Greenberg leaving, he has been fantastic for the club, but there are plenty of other good CEO’s out there who would love to take up the lead role in what is one of the biggest clubs in the game.
The thing that does worry me is that the Bulldogs are so confident in themselves, and so ready to shove it right up media types who are gunning for their demise, that they are making a few decisions that are not in the best interests of winning football games in the future.
It is great that the Bulldogs have been able to re-sign so many great players. So far it is safe to say that they haven’t lost anyone you would consider to be one of their star players.
You need to keep in mind though that this group of players were well beaten by the Melbourne Storm in the 2012 NRL Grand Final. It was a fantastic effort for the club to get so far, and they did it with a style of play that was very different to any other club in the NRL. Still, they didn’t win it all. They came up short.
Is it a smart move to commit the clubs future to a group of players that, coming off an almost perfect season, couldn’t get the job done? Is it a smart move to commit to a lineup that is unique and one that lends itself to a certain style of play?
I loved watching the Bulldogs play in 2012. The way their forwards passed the ball and worked opposition teams over up the middle was great to watch. It got them pretty far too! I worry that that type of play is a bit of a flash in the pan though.
If you look at South Sydney last season, they had a big decision to make in terms of whether of not they kept Dave Taylor. Taylor is without doubt a unique player. Sure he runs a bit hot and cold, but when he is in form, he can destroy and opposition team single handedly.
The Bunnies were willing to let Taylor walk. They were willing to sacrifice the X Factor he brought to their lineup and replace him with Ben Te’o, a much more conventional second rower who also plays out wide and who brings a more consistent performance to the club week in and week out.
It was addition by subtraction.
By committing to so many of their current lineup, the Bulldogs have locked themselves into this lineup for a very long time. 2012 was fantastic…but it saw Ben Barba play out of his mind, Frank Pritchard play the best and most consistent football of his entire career, Josh Reynolds step up to become a potential rep player, Sam Kasiano doing the game, Josh Morris play some injury free football for a change, Krisnan Inu playing out of his mind….
I worry that the Bulldogs committed to their current side based on an incredible run of form in 2012 in which….they STILL couldn’t win the Grand Final!
Is it a stretch to suggest that Frank Pritchard will go back to playing inconsistent football? That Krisnan Inu will go back to being the player that was so bad the New Zealand Warriors dropped him to reserve grade never to be seen again? A lot of things went right last year, and now they the Bulldogs have faced some adversity they were down near the bottom of the NRL ladder.
Is that really the team the Bulldogs want to commit to long term?
There is no doubt that Todd Greenberg wants to leave the Bulldogs in a position of strength. He does not want to walk out in August with a bunch of players off contract and with the inevitable charge against him that he left the club in a poor position for the future. Re-signing players is great for the club, but you have to ask whether this lineup will be able to improve on their 2012 season. Maybe they can, but if they can’t there is not a great deal of space under the salary cap left for them to bring in the players that might take them one step further than they managed in 2012.
I hope Bulldogs fans line their current lineup. They are stuck with them for a long time now…