The Bulldogs‘ general manager of football, Phil Gould, acknowledges that the team’s recent crushing defeat to the Knights was a long time coming and represents a breaking point for the club. He warns fans that it will take several years for the team to turn things around. Despite early optimism and some initial wins, Canterbury has lost their past four games, leaving them two points off the bottom of the ladder. Gould, speaking on behalf of the players, cannot provide a definitive timeline for the club’s potential competitiveness. However, he emphasises the importance of not cutting corners in the rebuilding process and taking the necessary time to address the team’s issues.
Injuries have plagued the Bulldogs this season, forcing them to use 30 different players. As a result, many young and inexperienced players have been exposed to the NRL before they were ready, struggling to cope with the speed and intensity of weekly matches.
The team’s struggles reached a low point when their home fans booed them after a defeat to a team only one spot above them on the table. Gould defends the fans’ reaction but dismisses suggestions that the club has regressed under new coach Cameron Ciraldo. He attributes the team’s vulnerabilities to an injury-ridden roster that has not been at full strength all year.
Despite the challenges, Gould remains committed to the long-term task of rebuilding the club. He acknowledges the need to improve the quality of the roster over time but recognises the difficulties of doing so in a salary cap environment with limited player availability. The Bulldogs have already begun this process by signing Titans playmaker Toby Sexton for the next two years and securing Panthers star Stephen Crichton for 2024. Gould expresses his excitement about Sexton’s potential and the opportunity for him to gain more NRL experience with the Bulldogs.
Overall, the Bulldogs‘ current struggles and lack of immediate solutions highlight the need for patience and a strategic approach to rebuilding the team. Gould emphasizes the importance of staying focused on the long-term goal and avoiding knee-jerk reactions in the player market. Despite the challenges ahead, he remains determined to create a stronger and more competitive Bulldogs team in the future.