The 2020 pre-season is underway and while many of the club’s more experienced players are yet to return to the training field, a host of rookies will join the NRL team over the summer as part of an extended training squad.
Jackson Topine, Kurt Picken, Javvier Pitovao, Bailey Biondi-Odo, Kane Jackson, Frank Kuresa, Chris Patolo, Wyatt Reynolds, Toa Mata’afa, Kayne Kalache and Aaron Schoupp will all spend time over the summer working alongside the Bulldogs NRL Top 30.
The 11 players listed are available for the club’s Jersey Flegg or Canterbury Cup sides and will benefit from the full-time training schedule.
Jackson Topine, a local junior and student of Easts Hills Boys High was the club’s 2019 SG Ball Player of the Year. A talented back rower who captained the NSW under 18s side and led the Australian Schoolboys team to victory over the Junior Kiwis. Jackson is contracted with the club until the end of 2022.
Kurt Picken, a talented 18-year old centre who is a graduate of the club’s High-Performance Youth Program, as well as the Harold Matthews and SG Ball teams. Kurt will be a first year Jersey Flegg player in 2020.
Javvier Pitovao, a hard-running back rower will captain the club’s Jersey Flegg team in 2019 and was named Player of the Year. He averaged over 100 running metres per game, as well as having a 92 % tackle efficiency rate and has shown himself to be one of the brightest prospects coming through the system. A New Zealand under 18 and schoolboy representative who will be in his third season at the club in 2020.
Bailey Biondi-Odo joins the club from the Parramatta Eels. The talented half who hails from Innisfail played the full season with the Eels Jersey Flegg side as a 17-year old in 2019. He is a Queensland under 16s Indigenous representative and a goal kicker.
Kane Jackson, the nephew of former Australian and Queensland Maroons centre Brent Tate, arrives at the club from the Sunshine Coast Falcons. A centre who was a member of the Falcons Hastings Deering Colts Grand Final winning team and a player who can play in the halves or at hooker.
Frank Kuresa, a powerful winger who can find the try line. He has spent the past two seasons with the club’s Jersey Flegg team and played a handful of matches with the Bulldogs Canterbury Cup side in 2019. A member of the Queensland under 20s squad who will be entering his third season at the club in 2020. Kuresa scored 13 tries from 17 appearances for the under 20s side.
Chris Patolo, a local junior from the Bankstown Sports club is a talented edge back rower or middle forward. A member of the 2019 SG Ball team who represented the NSWCCC side in 2018. Patolo will be a first year Jersey Flegg player in 2020.
Wyatt Reynolds, a prop forward from the Sunshine Coast Falcons club played every game for the premiership winning Hastings Deering Colts team in 2019. A try scoring prop with great leg speed, was named the best forward for the Falcons under 20s side.
Toa Mata’afa impressed in his first season for the club’s Canterbury Cup side, scoring six tries from 17 appearances and averaging 130.7 running metres per game. He also came up with seven try assists and 36 tackle breaks during season 2019. Toa was a member of Samoa’s World Nines squad, as well as the Oceania Cup squad. A talented back who can play anywhere in the backline.
Kayne Kalache, a local junior from the St Johns Eagles club is a middle forward and has been part of the Bulldogs Junior Representative programs having played for the Harold Matthews, SG Ball and Jersey Flegg teams, before making his way into the club’s Canterbury Cup side in 2019. Kalache played International Football this season having represented Lebanon against Fiji during the representative round, as well as at the inaugural World Nines.
Aaron Schoupp joins the club from the Illawarra Steelers for the next three seasons. A first year under 20s player in 2020 and a former Australian under 15s and NSW under 16s centre. The talented goal kicking outside back scored a try in the Steelers 2019 SG Ball premiership win and was also a member of the NSWCHS side this season. A strong ball carrier who was schooled at Illawarra Sports High.