Coach: Ron Griffiths
Last Premiership: 1995
Gains: Jarred Anderson (Knights - NSW Cup), Tom Baker (Knights - 20s), Kyle Saunders (Moree Boomerangs), Frazer Evans (Kootingal Roosters), Rowan Orcher (Narrabri), Craig Richardson (Western Australia).
Losses: Pete Cronin (Maitland), Kahn Juhnke (Boggabri - group 4), Kade Hardy (injured).
Past Five Seasons:
2018: 5th (9 wins, 7 losses)
2017: Wooden spoon (3-13)
2016: 5th (8-1-7)
2015: 7th (4-10)
2014: 8th (5-11)
Q and A with coach Ron Griffiths:
Q: After a fairytale run into last year's finals, including a six-game winning streak that ended one short of the decider, can Kurri Kurri pick up in 2019 where they left off?
A: "I think we need to reset. I'm not sure we need to pick up where we left off. I think that's best for the group. We had a really good back end of the year, but that was laid from the foundation at the start of the year."
Q: Do you expect the Bulldogs to play the same style of footy this season?
A: "I'd like to think that we could rediscover that sort of a style. Not much has changed with our roster and we know what works for us. As long as we can do that we'll certainly be competitive. I think individuals, once we get a bit of confidence and our form is okay, can grow to the next level. Especially those younger guys who are now a year older and have another year of experience."
Q: What are your impressions of Barry McGrady, Ngangarra Barker and Jarom Haines, who formed a dangerous combination in the backline last year?
A: The big challenge for them, they talk about it at a higher level and it's no different here, is the second year syndrome. Other sides work out how to play against them and how to defend against them and how to work them over. So from their point of view, it's about giving them the tools to make sure they can deal with that week in and week out. All indications are over the summer that they'll handle that. There's still a bit of water to go under the bridge before that's proven but we think, with the work they've put in, they'll be fine once we start to find our rhythm."
Coming off a wooden spoon Kurri Kurri stormed home into last year's finals series, qualifying in the last round and racking up a six-game winning streak that ended one short of the decider.
The Bulldogs, having retained most of their squad, are hopeful of recapturing that same form at some stage in 2019 and having a crack at the title.
Older heads like playmaker Jade Porter, prop Mick Campton as well as Rebels representatives Mitch Cullen and Ben Wyborn will again be important at Kurri Sportsground.
Exciting backline trio Jarom Haines, Barry McGrady and Ngangarra Barker return in red, white and blue and if they fire once more they are a dangerous combination.
Jarred Anderson and Tom Baker will be handy additions when not playing at the Knights.
Round 1 v Macquarie on April 13 (H)
Round 2 v Wests on April 27 (A)
Round 3 v Cessnock on May 4 (A)
Round 4 v Maitland on May 18 (H)
Round 5 v Lakes on May 25 (H)
Round 6 v Central on June 1 (A)
Round 7 v Lakes on June 8 (H)
Round 8 v Cessnock on June 15 (H)
Round 9 v Macquarie on June 22 (A)
Round 10 v Central on July 7 (H)
Round 11 v Lakes on July 14 (A)
Round 12 v Maitland on July 20 (A)
Round 13 v Souths on July 27 (A)
Round 14 v Wests on August 3 (H)
Round 15 v Souths on August 17 (H)
Round 16 v Central on August 25 (A)
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