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.
Pay has a host of players available to wear the 11, 12 or 13 jersey, including Josh Jackson, Joe Stimson, Dean Britt, Corey Harawira-Naera, Adam Elliott, Chris Smith, Raymond Faitala-Mariner and Sauaso Sue.
Jackson is a player who continues to represent what the Bulldogs are all about. He was again ‘Mr Consistency’ in leading through his performances and being a great example on and off the field in 2019, playing in every game for the club and finishing the season with 3 tries, 16 offloads, 903 tackles, 2482 running metres and a tackle efficiency of 90.2% from 24 matches. For this effort he was awarded the Les Johns Bulldogs Clubman of the Year and just before Xmas he received a contract extension that keeps him at Belmore until the end of the 2023 season.
Stimson arrives at the Bulldogs from the Melbourne Storm for the next three seasons. The Temora Dragons junior made his debut for the Storm in 2017 and has played 51 NRL games over the past three years. The hard-running back rower appeared in the 2018 Grand Final and last season scored five tries from 12 appearances and added six line-breaks.
Britt joins the club from the South Sydney Rabbitohs on a two-year deal. Dean is the son of former Bulldogs legend Darren Britt and after stints at the Rabbitohs and Storm, the 25-year old will be looking to cement a spot in Dean Pay’s starting seventeen. He can play on either side of the field and in 2019 he averaged 38 minutes from his 12 matches, with a tackle efficiency of 89.8% and an average of 90.1 running metres per game.
Harawira-Naera was a real find in 2019 and the back-rower impressed in his first season at Belmore with 5 tries, 7 line breaks, 59 offloads, 673 tackles and 79.5 running metres per game. He was also number one for offloads in the competition in 2019. In addition, the 24 year-old made his Test debut for New Zealand and was a member of the Kiwis World Nines team.
Elliott is the ultimate competitor. The hard-running forward from Tathra made 539 tackles and averaged 104.1 running metres from his 20 appearances in 2019. With 20 offloads and an average of 48 minutes per game, the 25-year old spent time in the lock position, as well as the back row. Next season will be Adam’s fifth in the NRL and with the 100-game milestone on the radar, he once again will pour everything into his performances.
Smith impressed everyone at the club in 2019, with the hard-running back rower playing 20 NRL games and providing plenty of impact from the interchange bench. He averaged 51.6 running metres, 32 minutes and 22 tackles per game, as well as a tackle efficiency rate of 85.6%. He started at lock on six occasions and was a member of the 2019 Indigenous All Stars team. The 25-year old also signed a new deal that keeps him at the club until the end of 2021.
Faitala-Mariner heads into his fifth season with the club in 2020 after arriving at Belmore from the New Zealand Warriors at the end of 2015. The back-rower managed 10 NRL appearances in 2019, scoring 2 tries and averaging 82.1 running metres per game with a tackle efficiency of 89.9%. A handful,l whether he is in the middle of the field or on an edge with his footwork and mobile frame, the 26-year old has impressed many over the summer with his attitude and intensity at training.
Sue made 11 appearances for the Bulldogs in his first season at Belmore, but, unfortunately, the forward's first year was cut short due to a torn ACL. The Samoan international averaged 75.6 running metres per match with a 90.6% tackle efficiency rating, as well as 10 tackle breaks and 258.8 post contact metres. A versatile forward who can play anywhere in the engine room.