Cameron Ciraldo has faced the media for the first time since taking charge of the Bulldogs, declaring he has his own philosophies on rugby league and shedding light on his plans for the roster.
The 37-year-old settled in at Belmore this week after signing off from the Panthers with a grand final win over the Parramatta Eels.
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On Wednesday he was questioned on the future of star half Matt Burton, who the Bulldogs are hoping to lock down on a new deal, and struggling playmaker Kyle Flanagan.
“I have a good relationship with Matt,” Ciraldo told reporters. “He is someone who can have a successful career at the Bulldogs.
Ciraldo then revealed Flanagan, who has struggled since his switch to the Bulldogs, had sought a meeting with Ciraldo upon his arrival. Flanagan reclaimed his spot in the starting side by the end of the season but had been the subject of reports in July which claimed he had been shopped to Super League clubs
“Kyle reached out and wanted to catch up. We spoke as people first before we started talking about footy. He is a nice young kid. He is working hard behind the scenes on different areas of his game. If everyone can do that in their spare time we are in for a successful year.
“I have no preconceived ideas about what the team will look like.
“I’m coming here with an open mind and clean slate.”
Ciraldo also opened up on his excitement for the new faces arriving at the club for the 2023 season including Viliame Kikau, Reed Mahoney, Andrew Davey and Ryan Sutton
“Even before their talent they have great work ethics,” Ciraldo said.
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“Kikau has become the best defensive player in the competition and it’s all about his work ethic. Reed is an 80-minute worker and is at the sweet spot of his career where I think he can go to another level.
“Ryan comes from a working-class town and he is a working-class guy.
“Andrew is the same. He is a guy that has been through a bit of adversity and didn’t debut until late. A guy like that will only be good for the younger guys in our squad.
While Ciraldo built a strong reputation during his time as assistant coach at the Panthers under Ivan Cleary, he vowed to be his own man at the Bulldogs.
“Penrith’s a different club to the Bulldogs,” he told reporters.
“I’m not going to cut and paste everything that was at Penrith and try to bring it to the Bulldogs.
“There were things that we did (at Penrith) that would work in a number of places and a lot of that was around hard work. (But) Canterbury has been built on that for a long time.
“At the moment, I’m just trying to understand what the Bulldogs are about and absorb as much of the culture and history that is at the Bulldogs already.
“We’ll find our own identity as we go along.”