The Bulldogs have been criticised for their mixed messages on rebuilding the club through their pathways amid a number of conflicting recruitment and retention decisions.
The Bulldogs have let Jake Averillo leave and fellow local junior Paul Alamoti could follow him out the door, while they have signed Toby Sexton, Liam Knight and potentially Blake Taaffe from NRL rivals.
Phil Rothfield questioned the direction of the club amid the recruitment vs retention debate surrounding the Bulldogs rebuild.
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“Where is this club going?” Rothfield asked on NRL 360.
“Three weeks ago Phil Gould said, we are going to build from within. We are going to do pathways.
“They let Jake Averillo go to the Dolphins. They brought in Toby Sexton from outside, who is a handy halfback.
“They bring in Liam Knight from Souths. They are bringing in Bronson Xerri. They are bidding for Tino Fa’asuamaleaui. They are bidding for Payne Haas.”
However, Brent Read countered that pathways is a long-term solution and the Bulldogs need to couple that strategy with some win now signings, which sparked a debate with Rothfield.
“The one thing I will say in their defence is pathways takes time,” Read said.
“You can’t click your fingers and wave a magic wand.”
“They have got two pathways players who have come off-contract this year, who were local juniors,” Rothfield shot back.
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“I agree with you they probably should have kept Averillo and maybe let Alamoti go, but there is no use in keeping them both because Xerri is coming next year and they expect him to be one of their centres.”
“He hasn’t played in four years,” Rothfield fired back.
“It is not building form within. They were developed local juniors.”
“But they are working on their pathways and they have had great results in the lower grades this year,” Read replied.
“So they are making progress there. But in the short-term if you want to win, they need to bring players in and that’s why they are getting linked with guys like Luai, Haas and Tino because they will help you win now.
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“People at Canterbury want to see success now and if you rely purely on pathways that will take time.”
Braith Anasta and Gorden Tallis questioned if the Bulldogs’ recent signings will help them turn things around when even better players they have signed in recent years have failed to do so.
“Do you think Liam Knight and Blake Taaffe will help them win?” Anasta asked.
“Well there is another aspect to it because at least those players come from a winning system and they don’t have a lot of blokes from winning systems at the moment,” Read replied.
“They will come in and help in the short-term. I think Blake Taaffe is a good footballer.”
“Reed Mahoney came from a winning system,” Tallis interjected.
“Josh Addo-Carr came from a winning system. Matt Burton came form a winning system. Viliame Kikau came form a winning system.”
“But they are driving standards and eventually that will pay off, but it takes time,” Read replied.
However, Anasta is concerned that the standards the big Bulldogs’ signings are trying to drive are not being met.
“This is the worry, they are driving the standards, but the standards aren’t there,” Anasta said.
“This is the worry, the fact that it has been identified over the last couple of years. We all know it.
“They have made big purchases. Where are the standards there and why aren’t they being upheld?
“All the good clubs it is next man up.”
However, Read believes the Bulldogs are trying to overcome years of failure and there may be more pain before they turn things around as club boss Phil Gould forecast.
“But they are not a good club, they haven’t been a good club for six years,” Read said.
“They are not a good club and they are trying to become one.
“I don’t even think next year they are going to be much better.
“The competition is better when the Bulldogs are going well, but I think even next year is too soon for them.
“I think it is two years away at the very earliest.”
Anasta questioned if the Bulldogs are still a quality halfback away from turning around their poor on-field results.
“Taaffe and Knight are handy recruits, but they have got to have another big fish they are trying to land,” Anasta said.
“Is their a No.7? They were going for Hunt there for a while. Is there anyone else on the radar?”
“I would have thought they have got Crichton at fullback, Mahoney at hooker and Burton at five-eighth,” Rothfield said.
“They need a halfback more than Payne Haas.”
Read believes the Bulldogs should go hard for Cowboys star Tom Dearden.
“You know who I would be going after is Tom Dearden,” Read said.
“He has got one more year left on his deal. The Cowboys have offered him a three-year extension.
“Luai and Dearden are the two elite halves coming off in the next 12 months.
“The Cowboys have tabled a three-year extension for Tom Dearden. As far as I know as yet he hasn’t taken it.
“If he goes to November 1, I would be having a red hot go at him.”
“What about Luai?” Tallis asked.
“Luai on one side and Burton on the other?”
“Luai could probably work,” Rothfield said.
“Luai or Dearden.”
Tallis agreed the Bulldogs desperately need a No.7 over front-rowers to climb up the ladder.
“They need a halfback,” Tallis said.
“They have got enough in their forward pack to go forward.
“I don’t know what has happened with Pangai Jr. He has promised the world and given you an Atlas at every club he has gone to, so he hasn’t quite found his mojo.
“I believe a really good halfback can turn a poor set into a good set. A halfback is very important.”
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