Coming off consecutive wooden spoons and a winless 2015 season, a promising pre-season campaign has signalled the beginning of a new era for the proud Bulldogs.

Coach:  Te Hira Niha

Last season: 8th (lost 13, drew 1)

Pre-season: “We’ve been getting good numbers at training and everyone’s fitting in well. We had a good win against Riccarton, (but) we got a bit of a touch-up against Halswell,” Niha says. “But we took a lot out of it. It’s been a couple of seasons since we got a win, so it was good to get that under our belts (against the Knights). We struggled with numbers and had a stack of injuries last year.”

Key gains: Jermahl Carroll (Riccarton), Lucuster Mati (Nelson), Tommy Belford (Riccarton), Michael Butson (Melbourne Storm)

Key losses: None

2016 squad: “We’ve got a good group of young guys, and the more experienced guys like Ross Turi in the pack. Kyle Reuben as also been leading the way with his experience and good attitude at training, and also controlling our attack from dummy-half.

“Everyone (from last year) is available and the local boys have really come to the party as well, they’ve just put in this whole pre-season. Their commitment has been really good. They want to turn it around, so that’s the main thing.

Goals: “We met our first goal last week, to win a game – I know it wasn’t a competition game, but that was a big boost for us. We’re big on our defence, so we’ve got the attitude that if we defend well our attack will come.”

Round 1: v Papanui Tigers @ Papanui Domain 2, Saturday 2:30pm – “We’re pretty excited to get into it, it’s a benchmark game for us. We’ll just play the same as we have through the trials and pre-season tournament, and at the end of the 80 minutes we’ll know exactly where we’re at.”

Northern Bulldogs
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