Trent Barrett’s blunt admission on struggling star

Kyle Flanagan arrived at Belmore as a million-dollar marquee signing for the Canterbury Bulldogs that ushered in the Trent Barrett era at the club.

But the halfback has endured a season that’s been anything but marquee.

Flanagan started the Bulldogs’ opening nine games before he was unceremoniously dropped as a result of a poor showing in the team’s 32-12 loss to the Dragons.

The 22-year-old made his return to first grade in round 16 against Manly at five-eighth, but Barrett’s side was walloped 66-0 by the Sea Eagles.

Flanagan, the son of premiership-winning coach Shane, was again left out of the starting line-up for the Doggies this weekend against the Sharks.

Flanagan was dropped after the Bulldogs’ loss in round nine to the Dragons. Picture: Mark Kolbe / Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images

His season has flattered to deceive, with reports emerging from the UK about Canterbury shopping him to Super League clubs.

However, Barrett denied there were any shreds of truth in those.

“I haven’t heard that,” Barrett said.

“Obviously Kyle’s contracted here for two more years, so he’ll be given every opportunity to improve himself as a player and make our team.

“I’m not sure where that one’s come from.”

The Bulldogs have failed to make the top eight since 2016, and it’s almost a certainty the drought will continue into 2022.

Whether Flanagan is the man to turn his and his club’s fortunes around next year remains to be seen, but he’ll certainly be aided with the club recruiting Tevita Pangai Junior for next season and beyond.

The destructive forward was officially announced as a Bulldog on Wednesday, and Barrett is rubbing his hands in excitement about what Pangai Jr will bring to the club.

“He’s obviously a very handy player,” Barrett said.

“He gives us something that we haven’t got; he’s another big body and he’s quite explosive.

Tevita Pangai Junior will join the Bulldogs in 2022. Picture: NRL PhotosSource:Supplied

“He’s going to bring a bit of x-factor to our team, and some speed and some power.

“We had to work really hard to get him, but the club’s done a terrific job.”

Pangai Jr aside, the Bulldogs’ 2022 roster is shaping up impressively. NSW winger Josh Addo-Carr, Dragons fullback Matt Dufty and Panthers centre Brent Naden have all pledged their future to the Belmore outfit.

But a recent off-field signing in the form of Phil Gould might very well be the club’s most important going forward.

“(I’m) Really comfortable with having Gus around, I think it’s a great appointment by our club,” Barrett said.

“I think you’ve probably seen the attention that the appointment has got this week speaks volumes for Gus’ reputation.

“He’s hit the ground running, we’ve got a lot of work to do, we’re still rebuilding and shaping the roster to how we want.

“No better person to do it with.”

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