With Monday’s release of disgruntled forward Raymond Faitala-Mariner, the Bulldogs do not have one player from their original top 30 squad from 2021 on this season’s roster.
Led by general manager of football Phil Gould, the Bulldogs have remarkably flipped their entire roster in the space of three years.
Gould was hired by the club in 2021, and clearly wasn’t scared to make some or a lot of tough decisions.
The Daily Telegraph’s Dean Ritchie, who wrote a column on the extreme and efficient overhaul, appeared on the Big Sports Breakfast radio show on Wednesday morning.
“In 2021, just three years ago, I went through the entire 30 man squad and there isn’t a single player left,” Ritchie told BSB hosts Gerald Middleton, Laurie Daley and Michael Clarke.
“The last player standing was Raymond Faitala-Mariner who left to go the Dragons.
Daley then asked Ritchie if an overhaul like this has happened so quickly before.
“I cannot recall an entire 30 man roster to be dismantled over just three years. It is extraordinary,” Ritchie replied.
“It’s brutal, but it’s remarkable. And I think Gus has done the right thing.
“He’s come in there and thought ‘you know what, this place needs a complete overhaul’, and he’s rolled his sleeves up and done it.”
There’s no argument that the Bulldogs’ roster at the start of the 2024 season is significantly better than the 2021 edition.
Bulldogs team photo in 2021.
Gould and the Bulldogs have recruited well with the likes of premiership winners Stephen Crichton, Matt Burton and Viliame Kikau coming to Belmore from the Panthers.
Hooker Reed Mahoney is one of the best in the league at his position as is Josh Addo-Carr when he’s on.
The high turnover can explain the growing pains over the past three seasons, as results from a complete roster overhaul aren’t expected overnight.
Comparison between Bulldogs’ squads entering the 2021 and 2024 seasons:
2024 (asterisk indicates new recruit)
However, fans and pundits expected much better than 16th in 2023. But with the team they have in 2024 as well as a season under the belt of second-year coach Cameron Ciraldo, the Bulldogs should be one of the sharpest improvers in 2024.
While premiership hopes aren’t high, it wouldn’t be a shock to see a team which is littered with stars push for a top eight spot.
There should be no excuses for Cameron Ciraldo and the Bulldogs in 2024. Source: NRL PHOTOS
This season is the 20th anniversary of the Bulldogs most recent premiership (2004), so it’d be a great year for the club to show something.
Like Gould was able to do so successfully for the Panthers during his time there between 2011-2019, Bulldogs CEO Aaron Warburton has pointed that the club’s pathway programs have strengthened significantly.
“We have worked hard towards becoming a development club again, which has shown in recent junior representative results, male and female,” Warburton told The Daily Telegraph.
“We’ve strengthened our pathways and created more opportunities for young talent coming through our Academy systems.
“We’ve recruited well and now have a nice mix of young, hungry talent, experience and football IQ, which we hope inspires the next generation.”