Bulldogs dominate MIKE COLMAN’s list of the NRL’s worst signings of 2022
Congratulations, Brent Naden. It’s only round 11, but you’re officially the worst signing of the NRL season.
You could even be the worst signing of any season.
It takes a lot to get past former All Black top rower Kent Lambert, who signed with the Panthers in 1977, played just one game due to injury and fulfilled his three-year contract working as a laborer on the new Penrith Park grandstand. , but you have.
Proving to be a well-paid dud with the Bulldogs is one thing (you’re not alone in that this season), but going out to join the Tigers on a Tuesday and playing for them against the Bulldogs the following Friday is another.
It’s not just unprecedented. It’s downright insulting to the club that threw you a lifeline after a conflict-ridden stint with the Panthers.
That’s why he tops our list of the worst NRL signings of 2022.
Brent Naden’s decision to leave the Dogs after a lifeline was thrown at him, and then play them days after joining Wests, was ‘frankly insulting’ to Canterbury.
The only question is which of his Bulldogs teammates he should put at numbers two, three, four and five.
After serious discussion, we have opted for:
2. Matt Dufty. Who knew the former Dragons fullback had an aversion to innings and a propensity to drop in and out of games? Apart from everyone who worked with him at St George Illawarra or watched him play in recent years, that is. Obviously, the genius in charge of the Bulldogs’ recruiting department was out to lunch when this contract was drafted.
Matt Dufty may be electric when he runs the ball, but his defense has been impressive.
3. Paul Vaughn. The BBQ King is another Dragons reject who was offered a chance at redemption by the Bulldogs and repaid them by bringing his bad ways to Belmore with him. He is said to be a detrimental influence on the players, and speaking to the media at a time when the club needs all the goodwill it can get is not a smart move. Still, making smart moves was never Vaughan’s long suite.
4. Tevita Pangai Jr. TVJ is everything you want in a fullback. He is big, athletic and fiery. The problem is that the highlights package from his entire 100+ game career, as spectacular as it is, is about 45 seconds long. On the other hand, its low beam package goes on and on and on. It took just two minutes in his Bulldogs debut for the Broncos’ old headache to be reported, and many more run-ins with authority have followed. He could be one of the best players in the NRL. Instead, he is arguably the most undisciplined.
You can’t take your eyes off Tevita Pangai Jr for a second when he’s on the field, as he can be informed at any time, as if he was only two minutes into his time with the Doggies.
5. This is a tie between Matt Burton and Josh Addo-Carr, and it has less to do with poor performances and more to do with poor decision-making. Like deciding to leave the Panthers and Storm in the first place. Star players who left big clubs to join a basket case have been dragged down to the level of the underperforming organization that pays them. Somehow, Addo-Carr manages to keep smiling, but Burton looks more and more like a man who threw out a winning lottery ticket with the garbage. He will type ‘bad signings’ into Google and pictures of him will appear.
Like Naden, Paul Vaughan received a lifeline in Belmore. And like Naden, he hasn’t paid the club anything resembling good form.
Which brings us to the other side of the coin: the list of the best NRL signings of 2022.
Unlike Brent Naden, there’s no standout winner of this one because the field is so tight, but we’ve gone this way:
1. Adam Reynolds. It’s not often you see a player pull a club without the aid of wooden spoon favoritism and enter top-four contention, but that’s what Reynolds has done on the Broncos. It’s not just his game play, precise kicking or coolness under pressure, it’s the way he has inspired the headless chooks that once surrounded him. Whatever they pay you, it’s not enough. (He would also top the list of biggest mistakes by an NRL club retention committee, if we had one.)
2. Niche Hynes. He looks like he’s been playing for the Sharks for years, and his fans wish he had. Reportedly, he signed on to play five eighths, but coach Craig Fitzgibbon pulled off a coup by handing him number seven and leaving Matt Moylan in number six. How important is Hynes to the Sharks attack? You just had to see how much they missed him when he was moved to fullback for the Raiders game to answer that. He is creating an Andrew Ettingshausen-like buzz in the Shire, on and off the pitch.
There were questions about how Nicho Hynes would fare at running back for the Sharks given that he was a fullback with the Storm, but he erased those with outstanding play.
3.Chad Townsend. I have to admit, I didn’t think the dumping of the Sharks-Warriors would cause much of a stir with the Cowboys, but I was wrong. Not only has his playing and kicking game been a revelation, but the positive influence he has had on Tom Dearden, who was previously self-distrustful, has been immeasurable. That way, the Cowboys got two players for the price of one when they signed him, and both are the best buys.
Chad Townsend is a big part of the Cowboys’ surprising turnaround from easybeats to one of the best sides in the competition.
4. Jackson Hastings. Reading his rap sheet after unhappy outings from the Roosters and Sea Eagles, you’d swear Hastings was the biggest pain in the butt since John Hopoate, but look at him now. Reports coming back from the UK Super League were glowing with praise for his prowess on the pitch, but the real surprise since his return is the way he handles himself in the media. Polite, confident and eloquent, he has been the lifeblood of the Tigers’ mini-renaissance. No one knew what to expect when he tiptoed back to Sydney, but he has far exceeded himself.
5. It’s a strong field for the final spot on the list, with Storm wingers Xavier Coates and Nick Meaney and Sharks forwards Dale Finucane and Cameron McInnes all making strong claims, but we’ve given it to Kurt Capewell. Why? Because the Storm and Sharks were working football teams that needed a little tweaking at the end of last season, while the Broncos were a pile of horse manure left over from the last time their equine mascot Buck had something to celebrate. What Capewell has done on the shoulder of Adam Reynolds to turn the club around borders on King Wallyesque.