Ins: Reni Maitua (Eels), Pat O’Hanlon (Eels), Tyrone Phillips (Rabbitohs), Chase Stanley (Dragons).
Outs: Ben Barba (Broncos), Paul Carter (Titans), Dene Halatau (Tigers), Kris Keating (Hull KR), Joel Romelo (Storm), Martin Taupau (Tigers).
2013 Record – 6th, 30 points (13 wins, 11 losses).
Attack: 5th, 22.04 ppg
Defence: 8th, 19.29 ppg
Marquee Man: Josh Reynolds – A tough, rugged competitor, Reynolds embodies everything about the Bulldogs no nonsense style of play. Rewarded with an Origin jersey last year, the Dogs five-eighth will once again be looking to get under the skin of the opposition and lead his team towards another finals appearance.
Under the Spotlight: Tony Williams – The man dubbed ‘T-Rex’ was largely extinct last season after a big money move from the Sea Eagles. A damaging ball runner on his day, Williams desperately needs to recapture the form that saw him represent his country if the Bulldogs are to pose a serious threat in 2014.
Draw Analysis: 14 games at home base of ANZ stadium a plus. Could come home with a wet sail with 4 of last 6 games at home and against only 1 of last year’s Top 8 teams.
It’s fair to say the Bulldogs campaign was derailed before it even started last season with the off field dramas surrounding star fullback Ben Barba.
Combined with the early loss of key forwards James Graham and Sam Kasiano, the Bulldogs should be commended for achieving a finals berth.
A closer inspection reveals of their 11 losses, 8 were by a margin of 1-12, so they were most certainly competitive throughout despite being unable to field their top side for large parts of the year.
Relatively inactive in the transfer market, it remains to be seen how the Dogs react to the loss of fullback Barba and whether their giant forward pack can get them rolling towards September.
If you think the Bulldogs are better off without Barba, you can back them at $1.70 with Sportingbet in a regular season match bet with Brisbane.