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Potter aiming to weave some magic with the Bulldogs

Two-time Dally M winner Mick Potter returns to coaching in The Knock-On Effect NSW Cup next season and will remain in the Canterbury-Bankstown fold.

The former Wests Tigers NRL coach, Potter last coached in the NSW Cup with Mounties (2021-2022). He had an interim stint as Bulldogs NRL coach after Trent Barrett departed mid-season in 2022, and then became Cameron Ciraldo’s NRL assistant for 2023.

“It’s great to be back,” Potter told

“It’s a good pathway for younger players and for the more senior ones to not only help the younger ones but find a little form themselves. So NSW Cup is a vital part of a footy club.”

Having been around the Bulldogs NRL team, things don’t change much for Potter in 2024 as he takes over the NSW Cup reins from Warriors-bound David Tangata-Toa.

“I’m still there amongst it as we’re still all one coaching staff – there’s no segregation or anything like that,” he said.

“We have the top squad of 30 athletes with another six development players. So we train as one and haven’t split teams – we’re running as one at the moment.

“Obviously someone like Viliame Kikau or Matt Burton will be playing first grade each week. But there’s quite a few battles internally for spots.”

Bulldogs General Manager of Football Phil Gould has been active in the recruitment market with 10 new faces – Bronson Xerri, Blake Taaffe, Connor Tracey, Drew Hutchinson, Jaemon Salmon, Kurt Mann, Josh Curran, Jake Turpin, Poasa Fa’amausili and Stephen Crichton – all with NRL experience.

Potter can expect to have quite of few on that list in his NSW Cup team.

“There will be difficult conversations every week about who’s in or out,” he said.

“It doesn’t matter what grade you’re playing - just do your best and show your best because everything is based on your last game.

“There will always be someone waiting in the wings.”

Along with a bulging NRL squad, Potter has the luxury of seeing the emerging Bulldogs stars make their mark, especially following 2023 Premierships for the club’s UNE Harold Matthews Cup (Under 17s) and Jersey Flegg Cup (Under 21s) teams.  

“It was a very successful year for the club so I think Gus has put together a strong crew coming up,” Potter said.

“It’s about having that patience – by both spectators and coaches – that these players are going to develop.”

A majority of the NSW Cup team from last season – finishing eighth with 11 wins and 10 losses – has been retained, while three Under 21s in halfback Joe O’Neill, prop Jack Todd and fullback Joash Papalii will be stepping up more regularly.

“He’s an exciting young player, Joash, that can play multiple positions. He’s warming into that full-time training mode and starting to find his feet,” he said.

There were four players who filled the NSW Cup captaincy role this season but Potter won’t be selecting a captain in the pre-season.

“Because I can see a lot of players who can help the team in regards to leadership given the recruitment that has gone on.”

Canterbury-Bankstown started 2023 with six wins from seven games. But as injuries hit the NRL side, they drew players up from the NSW Cup. That reflected in results with the team losing their last six games and missing the finals.

But Potter says the excitement is building around the club for 2024.

“I think it’s fantastic for the fans to see the reserve grade side each week and see who are the up-and-coming players – someone like Joash falls into that category.”

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New South Wales Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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