Over the course of February, we asked you to vote for your round one team that would take on the Newcastle Knights on Friday March 12 at 6pm.
With more than 40,000 votes across the 28 days, members and fans have selected the 17 who they believe will line-up in the blue and white jersey for the opening game of the 2021 season.
The results are in and the 17 are listed below.
With 90% of the votes, new recruit Corey Allan has been voted the player to wear the number one jersey for the season opener. Having arrived from the Rabbitohs at the start of the new year, Allan has impressed since joining the blue and whites. He adds quality and versatility to the club’s backline as well as being a State of Origin representative.
The two most voted players to wear the number two and five jersey’s for round one, are Dallin Watene-Zelezniak (63%) and Nick Meaney (53%). Both men started in the wing position during last weekend’s trial against the Cronulla Sharks with Watene-Zelezniak grabbing a four-pointer, as well as appearing in the Maori All Stars team on the flank. More than 60% of Dallin’s career has been spent playing in the wing position. Meaney made 16 appearances for the club in 2020, with 11 of those on the wing scoring six tries and added 10 line breaks.
New recruit Cotric (63%) and Will Hopoate (67%) have been voted the two players to start in the centre position for round one. Cotric arrives at Belmore after four seasons with the Raiders having scored 46 tries from 93 appearances. The 23 year old has spent most of his career on the wing, but comes to Canterbury looking to cement his spot as a starting centre. Meanwhile, Hopoate in his sixth season with the club will look to make the centre position his own. Safe as a house in defence and a very versatile player who can play a number of positions across the backline. Of his 100 appearances for the Bulldogs, 37 have been at centre.
The club’s 2020 Steve Mortimer Rookie of the Year, Jake Averillo has been voted the player to wear the famous number six jersey with 68% of the votes. The 20-year old made 13 appearances in his first season of the NRL, including the final two games of the year at five-eighth. He has worked extremely hard on his game alongside one of the great five-eighths in Head Coach Trent Barrett, as well as working on his combination with halfback Kyle Flanagan. Averillo missed the trial against the Sharks due to an elbow injury, but will be available for selection for the Knights.
New recruit Kyle Flanagan is the top voted player with 92% of the votes to wear the number seven jersey. Flanagan has spent his entire career to date in the playmaker role and having joined the club from the Roosters, the 22-year old is wanting to bring success to Belmore. Members and fans got an opportunity to see Kyle in his first hit out for the club last weekend in what offered good signs for things to come. A dominant kicker who will steer the team around in 2021.
Adam Elliott with 65% of the votes has been selected as the player to wear the 13 jersey. Elliott had an outstanding start to the 2020 season in the lock position, before a shoulder injury sidelined him for the remainder of the year. The 26 year-old had gained the praise of many observers for his play last year, in particular his hard running and ball handling ability.
Captain Josh Jackson (67%) and Raymond Faitala-Mariner (59%) have both collected the most votes to start in the second-row for the season opener. Jackson played in every game for the club in 2020 and from his 20 appearances he made 700 tackles, 1941 running metres and had a tackle efficiency of 90.2%. 17 of his 20 games were in the back-row. This year will see the Captain move into his tenth season with the Bulldogs. Meanwhile, Faitala-Mariner was a consistent performer for Canterbury in 2020 and played in every match of the season. The New Zealand International averaged over 100 running metres per game with a tackle efficiency rating of 92.3%. He scored six tries, delivered seven offloads and made 622 tackles. He missed the trial last weekend with an ankle injury, but is aiming for round one selection.
New recruit Jack Hetherington (55%) joins Dylan Napa (46%) as the two players with the most votes to start in the prop position. In his first season at the club, Hetherington is seen as one of the toughest front-rowers in the game and was super impressive in his first outing for the club last weekend against the Sharks. Napa is in his third season at the club and his 2020 campaign saw him go past 150 NRL matches, averaging 116 running metres and 29 tackles per game, as well as 10 tackle breaks and 589.4 post contact metres for the season. He missed the trial last weekend with a knee injury, but is aiming for round one selection.
With 78% of the votes, Jeremy Marshall-King has been selected as the player to start at number nine and has been a consistent performer over the past three seasons having averaged 22 games a year. Last season he made 741 tackles with a tackle efficiency of 89.3% and produced five try assists. With over 60 NRL games to his name, Marshall-King missed last week’s trial due to a low grade Lisfranc injury to his foot, but is aiming for round one selection.
The results for the four bench positions were determined by an accumulative percentage of total votes. The players with the most votes were Ofahiki Ogden (71%), Renouf Atoni (68%), Corey Waddell (65%) and Matt Doorey (43%).
1. Corey Allan
2. Nick Meaney
3. Will Hopoate
4. Nick Cotric
5. Dallin Watene-Zelezniak
6. Jake Averillo
7. Kyle Flanagan
8. Dylan Napa
9. Jeremy Marshall-King
10. Jack Hetherington
11. Josh Jackson
12. Raymond Faitala-Mariner
13. Adam Elliott
14. Ofahiki Ogden
15. Renouf Atoni
16. Corey Waddell
17. Matt Doorey
Match: Knights v Bulldogs
Round 1 -
Venue: McDonald Jones Stadium, Newcastle