And so it begins..

And so it begins..

NRL fans, rejoice. The 2014 season is finally upon us. Real, meaningful football is imminent.

Today is the day Round 1 officially kicks off, with a battle between the reigning champions and one of their Sydney rivals. The Roosters play the Rabbitohs to open the season tonight in what should be a great match-up between two of the leagues (early) upper echelon teams.

For Bulldogs fans, the campaign begins tomorrow night at ANZ Stadium against the Brisbane Broncos. Yes, the team once prodigious Bulldogs playmaker Ben Barba now calls his own.

This upcoming season, I will be detailing the team list (official game day roster) once announced every Tuesday accompanied by whatever notes and analysis the list  imbues. In the days leading up to Bulldogs games, I will also put together a preview of sorts that will cover some points of interest surrounding the impending game. This post will only contain the team list news, with another post following soon after previewing the opening Bulldogs game of the season.

So, without further ado, here is the official lineup for the Bulldogs in their Week 1 match-up against the Broncos:

Starters:
1 Sam Perrett
2 Mitch Brown
3 Josh Morris
4 Chase Stanley
5 Corey Thompson
6 Josh Reynolds
7 Trent Hodkinson
8 Aiden Tolman
9 Michael Ennis (c)
10 James Graham
11 Frank Pritchard (c)
12 Tony Williams
13 Dale Finucane

Interchange:
14 Josh Jackson
15 Pat O’Hanlon
16 Tim Browne
17 David Klemmer
19 Moses Mbye

Analysis:

  • Instantly, one notices the players that are missing. Krisnan Inu (jaw), Sam Kasiano (ankle), Greg Eastwood (foot) and Tim Lafai (hand) are all out due to injury. That’s 4 starting calibre players that won’t be in uniform in Week 1. However, the club has retained much of its depth, and the side, although not at full strength does not appear at all weak on paper.
  • The early answer to the question of ‘who will replace Ben Barba?’ appears to be veteran Winger Sam Perrett. By no means is this set in stone, and I personally believe he is most effective in the Wing position. However, he handled the unenviable task of replacing a talent like Barba with aplomb last year, and he now has the chance to make the #1 jersey his own entering the 2014 season.
  • The team has decided to have the captaincy shared between two players: former stand-alone captain Michael Ennis, and fellow leader Frank Pritchard.
  • The extended bench will inevitably lose 1 player to round of the interchange group to 4, however the inclusion of up and coming player Moses Mbye is a vote of confidence for the player probably mostly about familiarising him with the ins and outs of Rugby League at the professional level as much as it is having someone ready for a last minute swap due to injury or some late Des Hasler roster tinkering.
  • There are some notable names on the debut front also, with both Chase Stanley (formerly with the Dragons and Storm) and Pat O’Hanlon (previously with the Eels) making their first professional appearances for the club. Stanley will start at Centre, while O’Hanlon will look to make his impact off the bench, providing depth in the forward pack.
  • The biggest surprise in the side however seems to be the selection of relative unknown Corey Thompson. Thompson has taken a less conventional route to the professional arena, and seems to be the kind of player fans will find it hard not to root for. You can read about his story here. He makes his NRL debut against the Broncos in another chapter of what is hopefully a feel good story going forward. Congratulations, Corey.
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