Phil Gould hails Kikau impact on rising Bulldogs star
Canterbury supremo Phil Gould says the proven and positive nurturing influence of key second-row recruit Viliame Kikau on the players around him will continue at his new club with one of the Bulldogs' most promising young guns.
Gould, the Bulldogs' general manager of football, said 19-year-old centre Paul Alamoti, a local junior with huge wraps on him, was set for his NRL debut as the next in line of a suite of class centres to benefit from dual-premiership winner Kikau's tutelage
Gould has a deep understanding of 27-year-old Kikau from his days as Penrith general manager.
It is what the Fijian international has done, and will continue to do, for the players around him that enthuses Gould.
"Connectivity between players is very important and you just have to look at Viliame Kikau and his time at Panthers playing in that left (second-row) position," Gould told AAP at Channel Nine's Wide World of Sports NRL launch in Brisbane.
"He started with Waqa Blake. Then he went to Stephen Crichton. Then he went to Matt Burton. Then he went to Izak Tago.
"He has virtually nurtured four great young centres that have played outside him, so we have put Paul Alamoti outside him this year who will debut in round one against Manly.
"Viliame has taken him on as a project. Paul will be absolutely stoked to be playing outside him.
"From what I see at training, Viliame is doing the same wonderful job for young Paul as he did through the early stages of the careers of those players I mentioned."
Kikau will also renew his partnership with his former Panthers teammate Burton, now in the No.6 jersey at the Bulldogs.
Gould has led the assembly of the key pieces in the Bulldogs' recruitment puzzle since his return to the club he once played for, and then coached to the 1988 premiership.
He knows only too well that a quality roster is integral to success and in former Penrith star Kikau and ex-Parramatta hooker Reed Mahoney he has players who can assist the club in their quest to return to greatness after last playing finals in 2016.
Kikau has played 11 finals games and won two premierships. Mahoney, 24, has featured in eight matches in finals footy and played in a grand final last year.
"I think the first thing is leadership through actions," Gould said when asked what the duo offered.
"Neither of them are really big talkers but they know what success looks like and they know what professionalism looks like, in a club where we lost Josh Jackson who was our captain and leader last year.
"We needed leadership and people who have experienced winning at the highest level, and that is really important."
Gould said most of the club's depth in the top 30 this year was young and inexperienced. The Bulldogs don't want to expose those players too early in the season but all the education they can get from players like Mahoney and Kikau is vital.
"Both of them have been terrific from the day they walked into the place. They have certainly lifted the intensity," Gould said.