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‘Super sub’: Cameron Ciraldo explains why Connor Tracey won the fullback spot and how he plans on unleashing Blake Taaffe

Bulldogs coach Cameron Ciraldo has backed Blake Taaffe to come off the bench as Canterbury’s “super sub” against the Knights, with Connor Tracey set to remain in the No.1 jersey following a strong performance against the Storm.

The fullback jersey belonged to Taaffe in the opening five rounds, but he missed the trip to Melbourne after he was concussed in the win over the Roosters when he was on the receiving end of an ugly high tackle by Dom Young that resulted in him being sent off.

Taaffe returns this weekend off the bench for the game against Newcastle, with his coach expecting big things from the versatile recruit who can fill a number of positions if someone gets injured or can come on in the middle and prey on exhausted forwards.

Blake Taaffe has dropped back to the bench, but his coach expects him to be just as dangerous.

“It’s a nice insurance policy to have Blake on the bench as a backup if we do lose one of our outside backs, which has happened a number of times this year,” Ciraldo said.

“In the modern game with HIAs, it’s probably important that you have someone like that.

“I still think he can create something in the last part of the game. He can get on and play that super sub sort of role anywhere, and he’s open to that.

“If you’re a tired defensive line, you wouldn’t want to see Blake Taaffe coming off the bench fresh on the field.”

Canterbury’s back five has chopped and changed this season, but Ciraldo may have found his best combination with Tracey safe under the high ball, Josh Addo-Carr’s speed a nightmare for opponents, Jacob Kiraz making metres for fun, and his centres able to create something out of nothing.

But it was Tracey’s performance in Melbourne that caught Ciraldo’s eye, with the former Shark handling everything the Storm’s representative halves kicked his way.

Connor Tracey was excellent under the high ball against the Storm.

“Every time the ball went up, he just looked comfortable under the high ball,” he said.

“He brings the ball back with plenty of purpose and gets our sets started.

“Blake was doing a good job at the start of the year, but Connor deserves to be in that position this week and moving forward.

“The good thing is that it’s nice for a coach to have headaches like that and selection dilemmas.”

Tracey may have been named on the wing last week, but he knew in advance where he’d be playing at AAMI Park, with fullback nothing new to a man who started plenty of games there last year, including in the finals.

“I played there all last year, so I’m pretty comfortable there,” he said.

“I like wing as well, and I like playing wherever the team needs me.

“It’s no secret that I have a running game, so I’m one of those workrate fullbacks and I’m just working on the other parts of my game as well.

“I like getting involved and helping the team, play off quick play the balls and pop up everywhere.”


Originally published as ‘Super sub’: Cameron Ciraldo explains why Connor Tracey won the fullback spot and how he plans on unleashing Blake Taaffe - Courtesy Martin Gabor, NCA Newswire

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.