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Debuts to remember in 2019

The 2019 season was a year of debuts for a number of Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs players.

Whether it was a NRL debut or club debut, there was no shortage of names who will remember the season for different reasons.

Season 2019 saw two local juniors and a talented centre make their NRL debuts, while seven new recruits played their first NRL game for the Bulldogs.


The opening game of the season against the Warriors was a special time for Dylan Napa, Corey Harawira-Naera, Sauaso Sue and Christian Crichton. The four new recruits made their debuts for the club after arriving at Belmore over the summer from the Roosters, Panthers and Tigers. The players families presented the debutants with their jersey’s, with Crichton scoring a try on debut.

Inside debutants jersey presentation

The round three clash against the Tigers was a memorable one with the Bulldogs claiming their first win of the 2019 season and a local junior starring on debut. Milperra Colts junior Jayden Okunbor made his NRL debut in a match he will remember forever, leading the way with 19 runs for 214 metres. Okunbor’s parents were on hand to present him with his first NRL jersey. The match also saw new recruit Nick Meaney presented with his first Bulldogs jersey in an emotional presentation by his dad ahead of his club debut at fullback. The 22-year old impressed in his first outing and played a starring role in setting up a try for Reimis Smith, while running for 139 metres in his first game.

Meaney's debut jersey presentation

The moment Jayden Okunbor received his first NRL jersey

Round four’s match against the Melbourne Storm saw Jack Cogger named at five-eighth and play his first game for the Bulldogs after arriving from the Knights. The 22-year old’s dad presented him with his jersey and the young half was heavily involved with 11 runs, 79 run metres, 24 tackles and 9 kicks for 282 kick metres in the Bulldogs gutsy effort against the Storm.

After arriving from the Penrith Panthers midway through the year, Dallin Watene Zelezniak became the seventh recruit to make his debut for the club. The Kiwi International was named for the Bulldogs round 14 clash with the Roosters and became player number 798. Watene-Zelezniak played fullback and ran for 176 metres from 56 minutes after he had to leave the field due to a head knock. Dallin’s parents were on hand to present the 24-year old with his jersey inside the SCG dressing rooms.

Watene-Zelezniak jersey presentation

The round 15 match against the Cronulla Sharks was a special day, as local junior Brandon Wakeham made his NRL debut. Wakeham, 20, had been driving with his family to ANZ Stadium for the earlier Canterbury Cup match when Bulldogs coach Dean Pay phoned to tell him that he was replacing Rhyse Martin on the bench and would interchange with hooker Michael Lichaa during the game.However, he was thrust into the halves alongside Jack Cogger after Kieran Foran came from the field with a hamstring injury in the 25th minute and helped steer Canterbury to a 14-12 win over the Sharks.

Wakeham NRL debut jersey presentation

The club’s final game of the season against the Brisbane Broncos was celebrated with an impressive victory, but also an NRL debut after Morgan Harper became the 800th player in the club’s history to wear the blue and white. Harper was presented with his jersey in an emotional presentation ahead of the game by his twin boys and following the fulltime siren, the centre’s family performed a haka to mark the special occasion for the 21-year old.

Harper's emotional NRL jersey presentation

Harper presented with emotional family haka

Acknowledgement of Country

Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs respect and honour the Darug and Eora nations, who are the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.