Canterbury are a long way off the success they’ve always strived to achieve.
The Bulldogs have gone 17 years without a Premiership and seven years without a Grand Final appearance when the James Graham inspired Bulldogs lost to Sam Burgess’ South Sydney in the 2014 decider two years after they suffered defeat to Melbourne in the 2012 final.
Things have gotten even worse in the last couple of years however with less than 10 wins over the course of the last 24 months picking up the wooden spoon in 2021.
In their quest to turn things around, the Bulldogs have recruited heavily going into next season drafting in the likes of NRL Grand Final winning winger Josh Addo-Carr from Melbourne. They’ve even begun preparations for 2023 making major signings well in advance in the shape of Reed Mahoney and Viliame Kikau on top of the 10 new arrivals through the door for 2022.
Arguably the biggest arrival has been Phil Gould. The former Canterbury man has huge experience in a variety of different roles even being entrusted with coaching the New South Wales Origin side for two stints.
Both a former player and coach of the Bulldogs, the club holds a special place in his heart and now as General Manager he’s eager to turn things around. However, it’ll be easier said than done with significant strain placed upon the Bulldogs’ salary cap due to the changes being made within the squad which has drummed up questions over the futures of Kyle Flanagan and former St Helens star and Harry Sunderland Award winner Luke Thompson.
Both high-profile players have been linked with moves across the NRL or even to Super League although either player would no doubt have to be a marquee signing to be brought to Super League.
That said, Gould believes Canterbury’s problems are much deeper than a ‘salary cap problem’ and believes their strife stems from something much bigger than finances.
Gould told SEN Radio: “The Bulldogs don’t have a salary cap problem, they have a losing problem.
“They have only won six games in the last two years and that puts pressure on your salary cap, that puts pressure on people to perform.
“That is only natural in any club, so what we have to do is find winning players and winning combinations and get the club out of the cellar and back into a competitive mindset.
“I was under no illusions about how big the job was going to be.”
It’s clear the club still has some problems to solve both in terms of results but also in terms of player retention which could see players on the move maybe even to Super League.