Desperate Bulldogs to scour the globe
UNABLE to sign a marquee player for the next two to three seasons due to their salary cap debacle, the Canterbury Bulldogs will embark on a worldwide hunt for the most promising juniors playing rugby league and rugby union.
The Daily Telegraph can reveal the Bulldogs will pursue youngsters across Australia, New Zealand, Tonga, France, Samoa, England and Fiji.
Bulldogs director and football club committee member Chris Anderson said of the club's salary cap horrors: "We have inherited a mess."
Kids will be told there is an opportunity at one of the world's most famous rugby league clubs. Anderson even joked he was searching in Russia.
"We are looking everywhere, mate, anywhere where kids play rugby or rugby league. We want to say to these kids that there is opportunity at Canterbury," Anderson said.
"We need to cast our net as wide as we can and try and come up with the best kids in the positions we need. There is opportunity for kids who in two to three years want to be first-graders.
"It is opportunity in a family and once we get you here, we will invite you into what the family is all about - try and get you to have that feel about the club and really love what the club is about.
"Really, we don't want to be a club that is buying marquee players - maybe one a year when you get your cap where you want it, to keep it rolling over, and then you fill in the rest with development kids.
"We'd like to produce our own marquee players. I did this with 'Bullfrog' (legendary Bulldogs secretary Peter Moore) in the '70s and I am annoying the s--- out of people now, chasing blokes and asking a thousand questions.
"If you get established stars, it's hard to build a culture. But with kids, you can build them into your culture. By the time they are in first grade, they love the club.
"We have gone and got the best kids before - we got Dean Pay as a kid, Jason Smith as a kid.
"Craig Polla-Mounter, Jason Hetherington, they were kids we got from school and we developed them. That's the type of club that we are.
"The great thing is this is a club that can give kids opportunities. Other clubs like the Broncos, it's hard for kids to get a shot because they have so many established stars."
This week, Canterbury let Aaron Woods join Cronulla, a week after Moses Mbye left for Wests Tigers.
Their departures mean Canterbury will target kids and possibly middle-tier players.
"We can't go chasing established stars at the moment," Anderson said.
"When I took over (as coach in 1990), we only had six or seven players left so we decided to go and chase kids.
"We are getting back to the roots of what Canterbury is about and has been. We are a development club that for the last six or seven years has forgotten about development. There is a bit of a void there.
"We need to get back to being a development club - kids on the edge of first grade who are coming through.
"There are plenty of good kids out there. We just need to make sure we get out there and get our share. It will be a couple of years before we are looking at marquee players."
Canterbury has well-documented salary cap issues and Anderson says they are simply top-heavy in certain positions.
He also said the club was realistically hoping to finish in the top eight next season.
"Obviously we have salary cap problems - we have inherited a mess," he said.
"We have eased some it by getting rid of Moses Mbye and Aaron Woods - as much as you don't want to let good players go.
"The fact we had nowhere to move on the salary cap made it necessary for us to move blokes who can be moved on, unfortunately.
"We just had too much money spent in areas positionally that weren't being productive for us, so we couldn't spend it in the right areas. We've got a lot of money tied up in certain positions that are making it hard for us to build an overall team.
"I think next year if we can get it right, we will be towards the bottom of the eight - that's a realistic thing to aim for next year if things fall how we want them to fall.
"We're back in the market now to an extent. Not big-time but back in the market to try and fix up a few areas where we need to fix up."
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