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Position in focus: Fullback

Over the course of the pre-season bulldogs.com.au will analyse each position in the Bulldogs top 30 squad, along with the options Dean Pay has in 2020.

Starting with the fullback position and the three players Pay has available to wear the number one jersey in Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, Will Hopoate and Nick Meaney.

Watene-Zelezniak arrived at the club midway through the 2019 season and made a huge impact in the 10 games he played for the club, all in the fullback position. His arrival also coincided with the team winning seven of its final ten matches. In his first outing against the Sydney Roosters in round 14, the Kiwi international ran for 176 metres from 21 runs. The 24-year old impressed all with his fearless running and finished the season with 40 tackle breaks, an average of 142 metres per match, 558 kick return metres and a contract extension, with Dallin re-signing with the club until the end of the 2022 season.

Dallin Watene-Zelezniak
Dallin Watene-Zelezniak

Hopoate spent three games in the fullback position last season. He started the year in the number one jersey, before Nick Meaney made his debut for the club in round three causing him to shift to the centres. His only other game at the back was against the Broncos in round 25. From his three matches, he averaged 183 running metres, eight offloads, five tackle breaks and three try assists. One of the more experienced players on the roster, Hopoate is ever reliable and safe as a house at the back. The Tongan international also claimed the Dr George Peponis Bulldogs player of the year.

Will Hopoate
Will Hopoate

Meaney arrived at the club in 2019 and made his debut for the Bulldogs in round three against the Wests Tigers at fullback. He had a debut to remember, including 134 running metres, four tackle breaks and played a huge part in a length of the field try for Reimis Smith that led to the Bulldogs first win of the season. The 22-year old’s stats from his 11 appearances in the number one jersey included, 33 tackle breaks, an average of 108 running metres, as well as 616 kick return metres. He then shifted to the wing following the arrival of Dallin Watene-Zelezniak. Safe under the high ball and with great leg speed, Meaney finished the season with 22 games under his belt after making his NRL debut in 2018.

Nick Meaney
Nick Meaney