Phil Gould promised to overhaul the Bulldogs side when he arrived at Belmore, and a team photo from 2021 shows he has done just that. Disgruntled forward Raymond Faitala-Mariner was the last remaining player from the Dogs' top 30 squad in 2021. But after his release this week, none of the side that pulled on the blue and white that year are still at the club.
As general manager of football, Gould has thrown out the entire roster in just three years and it is hard to dispute as a whole that the current squad isn't better than the team of just a few years ago. Despite the fact Bulldogs fans would have hoped for better than 16th in 2023, fans and pundits alike are expecting a significant improvement in 2024.
The Daily Telegraph’s Dean Ritchie told Sky Sports radio on Wednesday that it is the fastest and most brutal squad overhaul he can remember in the history of the NRL. "In 2021, just three years ago, I went through the entire 30-man squad and there isn’t a single player left," Ritchie said. "The last player standing was Raymond Faitala-Mariner who left to go the Dragons.
"I cannot recall an entire 30-man roster to be dismantled over just three years. It is extraordinary. 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."
Under Gould's watchful eye, the NRL side has recruited premiership winners Matt Burton, Stephen Crichton and Viliame Kikau, hooker Reed Mahoney and Josh Addo-Carr. With what is largely considered to be one of the strongest Bulldogs starting sides in recent years, fans will hope the club can push for a finals berth in 2024.
NRL greats advise Broncos against Tevita Pangai Jr signing
Meanwhile, Mat Rogers and Scott Sattler are both in agreeance that the Broncos must tread warily and seriously think about whether it is ultimately a good decision to bring Tevita Pangai Jr back to the club after the Bulldogs were seemingly unbothered by the former Dog's potential move to Brisbane. Amid links to the Broncos, coach Cameron Ciraldo did not comment on his situation, with the club simply stating publicly that they wished Pangai Jr and his family all the best in whatever the next chapter holds for him.
Pangai made a big-money move to Canterbury but failed to find consistent form in the two seasons he was there. He signed as one of the NRL's most devastating forwards but left as one of the most inconsistent and walked away from the remainder of his big-money deal to pursue a boxing career last year. Speaking on his SEN show, Rogers said he fears bringing Pangai Jr back to Brisbane could "upset" the team.
"The Broncos have got something pretty special there. They have a great group of young players," Rogers said. "I agree that Tevita could add something, but does it not rub people up the wrong way with the comments he made last year about not liking being told what to do in rugby league? It blows my mind (the prospect of Pangai Jr coming back to the NRL)."
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