In the first instalment of his NRL Recruitment Watch series, NICK TEDESCHI looks at who the Canterbury Bulldogs are chasing, who they should be going after, and the areas on the roster that need shoring up for 2018.
Needs: The Bulldogs are in desperate need of upgrading all their spine positions, with their attack stuttering for the better part of three seasons. Josh Reynolds has already moved on, Michael Lichaa is no chance of being re-signed and Will Hopoate could be shifted out pending his asking price. Canterbury could also do with some legitimate speed out wide but will likely look at a younger player.
— Bill Hayek (@BiLLyBoiiiiii) April 24, 2017
2018 Recruits: Aaron Woods, Kieran Foran (unconfirmed)
2018 Losses: Josh Reynolds
Off-Contract: Will Hopoate, Michael Lichaa, Adam Elliott, Kerrod Holland
Rumours: Despite suffering some fairly significant salary-cap pressure, Canterbury have splashed out on two internationals and have been strongly linked to two more with the Bulldogs the front-runners for Cooper Cronk’s signature and rumoured to be close to signing out-of-favour Dragons custodian Josh Dugan.
— Sporting News AU (@sportingnewsau) April 5, 2017
It would be stunning though if the Bulldogs could afford four internationals who would all be on a million-plus. There will need to be players released early from their contracts, with James Graham rumoured to be on his way to Newcastle. Hopoate won’t be re-signed and will likely end up at the Wests Tigers, while Michael Lichaa’s future may lie in Super League.
There have been whispers the widely-reported move of Kieran Foran to Belmore isn’t a done deal yet, but he is almost certain to reunite with Des Hasler at the end of the year.
Warriors push to re-sign Kieran Foran as Bulldogs deal not yet done https://t.co/ogyNbRvjIM
— The Daily Telegraph (@dailytelegraph) May 7, 2017
Players to Target: Getting one of Cronk or Dugan will be the priority. The landing of Cronk will mean Moses Mbye will play hooker for the rest of his contract. Michael Gordon is a cheaper option at fullback than Dugan and is without a club following James Tedesco’s move to Bondi. Rookie winger Gideon Gela-Mosby is after an opportunity and could be a steal as he sits in the Cowboys’ backline queue, while Kalifa Faifai Loa would add depth to the three-quarter line.