The Bulldogs improved remarkably when they sent Trent Barrett packing mid-season and brought in club favourite Mick Potter as a coach. They became more competitive, played exciting attacking football and were no longer a ‘soft touch’ when up against the stronger clubs in the NRL.
But bottom line – they missed the finals for a sixth straight season – their worst run since the 1960s. A poor start under Barrett meant they were never even in the race for a finals berth despite the massive turnaround when Potter moved in.
Matt Burton and Josh Addo-Carr proved inspired signings and the club has again been active in the transfer market, coming up with a couple of game-breaking forwards in Reed Mahoney and Viliame Kikau for 2023.
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With Cameron Ciraldo coming in as head coach, it looks to be an exciting time at Belmore over the next few seasons.
Best player: Matt Burton had a magnificent first season at Belmore, playing every game and terrifying rival fullbacks and wingers with his towering kicks. The 22-year-old set up a host of tries with his smart running and passing game as well.
Biggest disappointment: Englishman Luke Thompson is one of the highest-paid players on the Bulldogs’ roster but injuries and personal issues restricted him to just 13 games without a single try.
Key signing: Reed Mahoney is as good as just about any hooker running around in the game and his smart work from dummyhalf will get the Bulldogs going forward through the ruck.
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Gains: Viliame Kikau (Panthers), Reed Mahoney (Eels), Ryan Sutton (Raiders).
Losses: Jeremy Marshall-King (Dolphins), Jack Hetherington (Newcastle), Paul Vaughan (Warrington).
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