Aiden Tolman explains what being named in the 80th Anniversary Team of the Decade means to him.
Tolman joined the Bulldogs in 2011 after three seasons with the Melbourne Storm and was a member of both the 2012 and 2014 Grand Final teams.
In his first year at the Bulldogs he was named player of the year and it 2015 was named vice-captain to James Graham alongside Frank Pritchard.
The forward’s game is built on consistency and toughness and being chosen alongside some of the best players over the past decade is honour for one of the most underrated players in the game.
“To be named as one of the best players over the past 10 years was a massive surprise.
“I am so proud to be named alongside of some of the clubs greats and NRL greats,” Tolman said.
The past decade has included two Grand Final appearances and four other appearances in the finals which shows how strong and high quality the calibre of players have been over the past 10 years.
“The side is full of talent and some of the players named in the side at the peak of their career were the best players in the game,” Tolman added.
A selection panel that included Gary Lester, Barry Nelson OAM, Ian Heads OAM, David Middleton and Phil Gould came together to choose the best 17 players of the past decade. A strict criteria was put in place, that included:
- Players must have played first grade between 2005 – 2014
- Have played 50 or more first grade games for the Bulldogs - Not necessarily all in the years 2005 – 2014
- Only players are eligible – not administrators
- Players must embody the spirit and values of the Bulldogs
At the end of discussions, the final 17 were chosen and endorsed by the Board with seven current players and 10 former players chosen in the side.
The selected side is as follows:
1. Luke Patten
2. Hazem El Masri
3. Josh Morris
4. Willie Tonga
5. Matt Utai
6. Josh Reynolds
7. Trent Hodkinson
8. James Graham
9. Michael Ennis
10. Roy Asotasi
11. Sonny Bill Williams
12. Andrew Ryan
13. Greg Eastwood
14. Aiden Tolman
15. Mark O’Meley
16. Willie Mason
17. Frank Pritchard