Dogs' Flanagan turns his frown upside down

·2-min read

The last time Kyle Flanagan fronted the media in a midweek press conference he burst into tears.

But over a year on from that outpouring of emotion, the Canterbury halfback was back standing in the same spot on Tuesday morning with a big grin on his face.

Flanagan's NRL career has been burdened by expectation and pressure because of his famous surname and impressive junior football. Last year that proved too much for him.

After being dropped under former coach Trent Barrett last season and then sidelined until round five this year by Bulldogs football manager Phil Gould, it's taken time for Flanagan to feel comfortable in his own skin.

But now there is good reason for him to smile.

He is playing with confidence under interim coach Mick Potter, who has the Dogs boasting a 4-2 record and averaging 27 points per game over the last six weeks.

"I have always backed myself but I probably didn't know how quickly you can lose your confidence and it's quite hard to regain it," Flanagan said.

"It's quite hard (to take your mind off playing) when I am on footy 100 per cent of the time and I have to listen to my old man talk drivel on Fox Sports.

"I live and breathe footy and it's been a rollercoaster 12 months."

Flanagan hasn't enjoyed the seamless path to first grade as some halfbacks have.

After coming through at Cronulla, he was dropped and then pushed out of the door by the Roosters in 2020.

Now he says he's beginning to understand his game with each passing week.

"Things start to slow down the more you play," he said.

"And I'm only 23 and leading a footy team around is hard so having guys around me takes a lot of pressure off me."

Flanagan cited the stability of having hooker Jeremy Marshall-King, fullback Jake Averillo and five-eighth Matt Burton alongside him as a big reason for his mid-season revival.

But he reserved special praise for the calming influence of Potter ahead of games on the road against North Queensland and the Warriors.

"He (Potter) simplifies things so much for us and he gives us confidence to go out and play footy," Flanagan said. '

"We are repaying the faith.

"The shackles are off now and we are excited by how we are playing. I'm enjoying my footy - how good is it?

"I think people thought we were a structured team and that was the way we were being coached.

"We're super excited about the last couple of weeks. I am loving being out there, there's been consistency playing in the No. 7 jersey and I grow into it each week."

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