With kick-off of the Club’s 2016 season beginning this Friday night, bulldogs.com.au takes a look at six questions yet to be answered ahead of the clash with the Manly Sea Eagles.
1. Who will wear the number one jersey?
With Brett Morris undergoing minor knee surgery and sidelined for the opening game of the season, the door is open for a number of players to wear the fullback jersey on Friday night. New recruits Will Hopoate and Brad Abbey who both spent a fair chunk of the pre-season training at the back and both played in the fullback position throughout the trials are the leading contenders, but Sam Perrett who played 24 games, scored three tries, averaged 15 runs per game (135.8m), had 84 tackle breaks, five line breaks, 10 offloads and five try-assists over the course of the year at fullback in 2014 also puts a twist to who Des Hasler will select.
2. What will the right side look like?
The left side for the Bulldogs looks certain to see Curtis Rona and Josh Morris partner each other once again, but with the injury to Brett Morris, the make-up of the right side is yet to be finalised. Sam Perrett and former Bulldog Tim Lafai spent the 2015 season together on the right, but with Hopoate and Perrett an option to wear the number one jersey, there could be a new look right side for round one. Chase Stanley started at right centre in the final trial against the Storm and comes into calculation, as does new recruit Kerrod Holland who could slot into the centres or the wing.
3. Will Des select two number nines?
Michael Lichaa and Craig Garvey have different dummy half styles, but they both bring plenty to the role and with the reduction in interchanges, Hasler could select both and utilise the new rule change. Garvey joins the club from the Dragons and looking for an opportunity, while Lichaa is looking to build on his first year at the club after ending the 2015 season with a serious ankle injury, the selection of both could prove to be a masterstroke.
4. Will Brett Stewart play?
Stewart is rated a 50-50 chance of playing against the Bulldogs on Friday night after injuring his hamstring in the Sea-Eagles trial win over the Ipswich Jets. He is yet to train on the field since the trial and would be a significant blow for the home side if he was not to take the field.
5. Will Brookvale Be Ready?
Josh Morris labelled it a sandpit and Brett Morris said it definitely wasn’t up to scratch after the Bulldogs defeated the Sea-Eagles in round three last year at Brookvale Oval, but after an investigation from the NRL we can all hope we won’t see the surface like that again.
6. What will Friday’s match bring to the Bulldogs/Sea Eagles rivalry?
Ever since Manly legend and hero Des Hasler departed the Northern Beaches in favour of the blue and white of Belmore, an unofficial rivalry has kicked off. The Bulldogs have faced Manly a total of 10 times since Hasler left the Northern beaches with the Bulldogs leading the tally with 7 wins to 3 and looking at five in row this Friday night. Over the past five seasons this match has produced some great moments ever since Hasler departed and with a new look Sea-Eagles outfit in 2016, the big question is, what will it happen this time around?