Canterbury Bulldogs a halfback away from finals berth, says Andrew Johns

Rugby league Immortal Andrew Johns says that despite only winning three games this year, the Canterbury Bulldogs were only one change from making the top eight.

The Bulldogs collected their first wooden spoon since 2008, ending what is now their fifth season in a row without finals football.

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“If you parachute Nathan Cleary into that team this year, they make the eight,” Johns told Wide World of Sports.

“Their attack was terrible, their defence, on occasions, was awful – but moving forward, I think they’ve bought some really class players.

“They just need to work out who’s their No.7. You can have the biggest and best boat in the world but (if) you haven’t got a captain steering the ship, it’s not a good boat.

Johns said Jake Averillo was better suited to a role further out in the backline, and he raised doubt over Kyle Flanagan.

Averillo will likely start the 2022 season in the No.7 jersey, with new recruit Matt Burton at five-eighth.


But the Newcastle legend is concerned the pair may be too similar.

“Centres or five-eighth is his spot,” Johns said of Averillo.

“I don’t think Burton is the halfback. Such a specialised position.”

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The Bulldogs will welcome in an avalanche of talent over this off-season, with Burton being joined by Josh Addo-Carr, Matt Dufty, Paul Vaughan, Brent Naden and Tevita Pangai junior.

“They’ve got the talent there, they’ve got a hard-working forward pack and get some real strike out wide next year,” Johns said.

“They’ve just got to find that halfback.”

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