NRL: Asiata can play major role in Bulldogs resurgence

Opinion: @Hayward_AdamK

Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs recruit John Asiata is a rare hybrid talent – a halfback in a front rower’s body. If coach Trent Barrett needs a half, a lock forward, a front rower, a back rower, or a bench utility – Asiata can get the job done.

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He will bring much needed experience and leadership to the Bulldogs roster – having played 138 first grade games, two tests for both Samoa and Tonga, a 2015 premiership winner with the North Queensland Cowboys and played a key role in his former club’s fairy tale run to the 2017 grand final.

In addition to his on-field attributes which Asiata will bring to his new teammates, he sets the example off the field as well. He is a professional, hardworking, and humble clubman who is dedicated to being a role model for kids and has a strong focus on his community work which twice earned him the ‘Clubman of the Year’ award at the Cowboys.

Unfortunately for Asiata, he had Jason Taumalolo ahead of him for his preferred lock forward position at North Queensland, so his decision to depart Townsville came down to his desire to be a starting 13.

He then signed with the Broncos on a one-year deal.

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Unfortunately, his time in Brisbane was limited to just 10 games and was unable to prove his true value due to bad luck with injuries. There is also the argument of Asiata not being used correctly, only picked in his preferred position of starting lock twice.

But the Broncos loss could very much be the Bulldogs gain.

Asiata’s ball playing skills will add another dimension to a misfiring Bulldogs attack. He would link the halves from the middle-third of the field in the same mould as an Isaah Yeo, Jake Trbojevic, Victor Radley, or Cameron Murray and will take some of the pressure off incoming five-eighth Matt Burton and whomever secures the starting halfback position.

Not only is Asiata a strong ball runner himself with a crisp pinpoint pass, but his silky skills also include another attacking kick option, particularly his short kicking game.

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At 28-years-old, Asiata still has plenty of quality seasons left in him and despite only being signed by the Bulldogs to a one-year deal, he will have the extra motivation to prove himself worthy of a contract extension to remain in Belmore.

The Bulldogs signing spree for the 2022 season has been nothing short of impressive, with Asiata joining fellow-new recruits Burton, Josh Addo-Carr, Tevita Pangai Jr, Matt Dufty, Brent Naden and Paul Vaughan.

It has been a rough few years for a very passionate Bulldogs supporter base, but they finally have a roster that could lift this club off the canvas and take them from wooden spooners to top-eight contenders.

If Asiata earns a spot in the 17, he has the experience and the talent to play a major role in a resurgence of the once mighty Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs.