Bulldogs play long game after Manly batted, Kiraz backs up independent Doctor

Bulldogs players Ryan Sutton and Jacob Kiraz are urging fans to be patient with the team’s new incarnation after suffering a disheartening 31-6 loss to Manly in the 2023 season opener.

The new era under coach Cameron Ciraldo began with a whimper rather than a bang as Canterbury faced the wrath of a resurgent Tom Trbojevic and an ageless Daly Cherry-Evans at the Brookvale Oval on Saturday afternoon, but Sutton and Kiraz insisted that should not be long term the project had just started and that many positive aspects could be found in their performance.

“Our D was great,” Sutton said. “We gave away too many casual balls and were under the pump but I thought especially when we lost a man it could have been a lot worse. We supported ourselves. So will it be. Sometimes things go against you, but it’s about looking ahead.

“We’ve done a lot off the field to be connected and bring a good culture to the club. You could see that. With our backs to the wall and casually abandoning them Ball and a man, we showed up. That shows a lot of character about this squad.

“Fans should look at that and the positives. We have time. There are about 20 rounds in this competition and finals, you can’t put all your eggs in one basket in round one. We are ready and looking forward to round two.”

Kiraz added that although execution was lacking, the bond between the players was strong, despite almost half of the 17 who appeared over the weekend being new to the club in 2023.

“We showed our courage,” said the Lebanese international. “It doesn’t help if our finish was so poor, but defending our line like we did in the first half showed how strong we are as a team. We see the connection, so those are the positives.

“With the courage we’ve shown, we know we can show that in every game. We just have to do more – we love defending but we don’t want to defend all the time and eventually it breaks us. We know what we need to fix and we can focus on that this week.”

Sutton had a simple message for Doggies supporters ahead of a difficult trip to Melbourne, despite facing a storm that has seen key players in Cameron Munster, Xavier Coates and Justin Olam absent.

“Trust” was his message to the fans. “We have a really good system. You can’t go into round one because it’s round one and the rust is still there. We’ve only spent five months together and we know as players and staff that we can do it and we just have to keep going.

“We have a great test this weekend and we will travel and hopefully put on a good show.

“We have games to find our bearings and move on. That’s us at the club right now. We’re a new squad. But like I said, we’ve had months together and we’re ready to go.

“There’s no better place: Melbourne are a great side and have been for a number of years. It’s a game you want to be involved in by going to AAMI Park and putting on a show. We want to make sure we look at the game this week and make sure we fix the bugs.

“We’re going to approach it the same way as if all of their players were playing. You can’t look into the details too much, we’ll think of ourselves.”

Kiraz said it’s important to remain calm and let the vastly changed side grow into the year.

“There’s talk of what this team can do and I have faith in what this team can do but it’s our first game together, we’ve had three NRL debuts and a lot of club debuts so it’s about who to bring combinations together.” he said.

“This year we have a closer bond than last year, we are all very close now. It’s a tight group. Ciro brought some culture with him and we have a lot of old boys here. Bringing that in and the connection we have is what we have this year, which we didn’t have that much last year. We just have to show it on the field and I have full confidence that we can do it.”

He also supported the NRL’s independent concussion doctor, who came under fire after several incidents over the weekend.

Kiraz had been in the center of one of them and was pulled back before half-time after a headbutt that few except the NRL bunker noticed.

“I might have got whiplash but I was fine after that,” said the winger.

“I was confused when the physical therapist told me I had to get out. Of course I know their intentions aren’t bad and they don’t want me out of the game, but it was a crucial moment back then.

“I was frustrated because I wanted to go out and play and I knew I was fine playing. There’s been a lot of head banging and the like in recent years.

“A lot of players are suffering after their careers, so I understand the intentions.”

https://www.theroar.com.au/2023/03/07/weve-got-time-bulldogs-playing-the-long-game-after-manly-drubbing-kiraz-backs-independent-doctor/ Bulldogs play long game after Manly batted, Kiraz backs up independent Doctor

Russell Falcon

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