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Burton and Mahoney on combos and competition

Bulldogs hooker Reed Mahoney insists he will return to the field a better leader after his first full season in charge of the side delivered mixed results and emotions.

Mahoney sat down with on the eve of the 2024 season to reflect on the last 12 months a Bulldog and the squad Head Coach Cameron Ciraldo has assembled for his second campaign.

The pair will continue to lead in actions on and off the field with the help of nine new recruits to complement a star-studded squad. 

“As a group – staff and players – we learned a lot about ourselves last year,” Mahoney said.

“Some of the results were pretty poor and there were ways we could’ve thrown the towel in but we never had that mentality despite sometimes it not showing that. That’s a huge positive.

“Some things were happening for us and some things weren’t. We don’t want it to happen again. We’ve got to trust the process that things will turn for us.

“We’ve got to solve problems on our own at training by it being player-led and driving our standards.

“If we do it right at training there’s a fair chance we do it on game days.”

Mahoney praises Dogs young forwards

Mahoney held leadership roles during his time at the Eels but conceded the captaincy commitments had caught him off guard in 2023.

“I thought leadership wasn’t as hard as it is,” he said.

“People might see it as a ‘c’ next to your name but it’s a lot more than that.

“Everyone is always watching what you’re doing, there’s no time to slack off, especially when you’re watching young fellas copy what you’re doing and they think that’s ok.

When you get put in that spotlight you appreciate the great leaders of our game. They’re great athletes but also good people who lead by their actions and help others around them be good.

“When you get put in that spotlight you appreciate the great leaders of our game. They’re great athletes but also good people who lead by their actions and help others around them be good."

Mahoney has been training alongside new recruit Jake Turpin with the pair sharing a partnership during their time in the Queensland junior representative programs as teenagers.

How Ciraldo uses the pair will be a feature to watch in 2024.

“Turps (Turpin) is stocky like me and small but he’s tough as nails. Loves the contact and is fit. He’s been good for me and the team by pushing everyone.

“We’ve got healthy competition there so it’s good and will allow me to put everything I can into the position and give him the chance to also add some impact on the field.”

Meanwhile, Bulldogs five-eighth Matt Burton is excited by the NRL’s decision to change a rule that will see teams be able to not concede a penalty if they unsuccessfully attempt a short drop-out.

Burton partnered Drew Hutchison in the halves for Thursday night’s trial against the Storm, and the duo have held down their starting positions together in Tuesday's team list announcement for Friday night, but the 23-year-old says it's all up to Ciraldo's as to who will line up for Round 1.

“I love it, I think it’s the best rule they’ve come up with and looking forward to how teams go with it.” Burton said of the rule change.

“I don’t want to give away too much but I like that we won’t be penalised much for it. We’ll see so many clubs go for it.

“All the halves have been training really well, whoever I’m alongside we’ll strike up a good combination.

“I can focus on my game a lot more this year and do what I can with hopefully some value.”

Burton impressed with new recruits

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.