It’s no secret the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs are struggling with salary cap management and roster building ahead of the 2019 season.
The Daily Telegraph confirmed as much when they revealed this week that even if the Bulldogs filled the remaining 14 spots on their roster with minimum wage contracts to reach the NRL squad requirement of 30 players, they would be in breach of the salary cap by around $390,000.
Belt-tightening is one thing, but on-contract talent will have to be shown the door on deals compliment by Canterbury dollars or things could get tough for Dean Pay as he attempts to rebuild the playing group in his image.
We take a look at five possible players the Bulldogs could jettison to help alleviate the issues they currently face.
1 Moses Mbye
Despite, or perhaps because of a fairly successful switch to fullback under Dean Pay’s tutelage this season, Mbye remains firmly in the picture to be moved on.
Mbye has proven again that he is a decent option for sides chasing speed and an x-factor in their backline and there's little doubt he would fit in nicely to a side that had the structure and stability to feature an off-the-cuff type talent.
In money terms, Mbye is on around $750,000 a season at the Bulldogs right now, having signed a four-year deal back in 2016 so he does loom as the sort of big-dollar offload that would free up some cash for the Bulldogs.
2 Brett Morris
Brett Morris was a huge signing for the Bulldogs when they lured him over from the Dragons to link up with brother Josh ahead of the 2015 season.
Since then he's managed 27 tries in 55 games for the Belmore-based club and been a tremendous servant but earning a reported $700,000 a season and at age 31, the Kiama-born star is almost certainly on the way out the door at the end of the 2018 season.
No one could suggest Brett, or brother Josh for that matter have not been good signings for the Bulldogs over their respective time with the club, but at the end of the day, they're on the wrong side of 30 and paid big dollars, making them very likely departures over the upcoming off-season.
3 Josh Morris
Josh has spent a lot more time at the Bulldogs than brother Brett, having moved over from the Dragons ahead of the 2009 season and the 99 tries in 207 games have been a fair return for the big dollars he's been paid.
That said, for the same reasons as brother Brett, Josh Morris is almost certain to depart at the end of the current campaign.
You can't pay big dollars to ageing wingers when your salary cap is the sort of mess the Bulldogs are currently facing.
4 Aiden Tolman
Very much a relic of the Des Hasler era at Belmore, Aiden Tolman is no certainty to see out the four-year contract he signed with the club in 2016.
Tolman has only played four games for the club in 2018 and despite his long-term deal, he looks very likely to be one of the players shopped around to rival clubs in a desperate bid for salary cap relief.
While it's likely the Bulldogs would be ok with paying part of his contract in order to move Tolman out, there appears to be little interest amongst rival NRL clubs in taking on his big-money deal even in part.
If there's a UK Super League side interested and willing to take on even half the money he's paid by the Bulldogs, you can expect them to take that deal quickly.
5 Will Hopoate
While Will Hopoate has managed to turn things around a little on-field in 2018, he is still one of the few players on the Bulldogs roster that would be able to attract interest from other sides around the league, putting him firmly in the shop window.
Hopoate is not on the huge coin he once was having signed a three-year deal in 2017, any cap relief is good cap relief around Belmore right now and it's hard to imagine the club would stand in his way should a sensible offer come in from a rival club.
Which players do you think could be forced out of Belmore as the Bulldogs try and balance the books? Let us know in the comments below.
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