Dogs open war chest to secure ‘outstanding’ player
THE NRL silly season is in full swing but you can strike one superstar off the wish list after Canterbury re-signed Kiwi Dallin Watene-Zelezniak.
The Bulldogs beat out a handful of rival clubs including the Wests Tigers and the Cowboys to extend Watene-Zelezniak's stay at the club until at least 2022.
Only injury robbed the Bulldogs fullback of skippering the Kiwis in their three end-of-season Tests. But the decision to remain at Belmore is a huge confidence boost for Canterbury who have a stack of players off-contract.
Watene-Zelezniak was a marquee mid-year signing for Canterbury this year from Penrith but his 18-month contract indicated he was unsure if he would commit to the club long-term.
That has all changed given his impressive 10-game stint, helping the Bulldogs win six of them to spark their end-of-season revival.
At only 24, the Bulldogs can build their long-term future around Watene-Zelezniak as they push for a final spot next year.
Bulldogs boss Andrew Hill said Watene-Zelezniak was a key piece of the Bulldogs puzzle.
"Dallin is a quality individual who has really fitted into the Bulldogs culture on and off the field," Hill said.
"His performances in the fullback role were outstanding last season and he also brings a level of leadership that has greatly enhanced our team. We are delighted that he has committed his future to our club and that he has bought into our values.
"He is extremely well respected around the playing group and we look forward to seeing him continue to flourish next season."
With millions of dollars of salary cap space heading into 2021, the Bulldogs have been linked to a host of big-name players joining the club in 2021 including Latrell Mitchell.
But the Bulldogs are conscious of keeping other clubs from swooping on their own rising stars.
They are close to extending the contracts of Reimis Smith and Lachlan Lewis.
The Bulldogs are also keen to keep Will Hopoate, Adam Elliott and Josh Jackson but have a heap of players whose contracts end in 2020.
Some of their other off-contract players include Jack Cogger, Raymond Faitala-Mariner, Kieran Foran, Kerrod Holland, Morgan Harper, Marcelo Montoya, Chris Smith, Sauaso Sue, Aiden Tolman, Renouf To'omaga and Brandon Wakeham.