The Bulldogs are on track for their first wooden spoon since 2008 – and the players are set to pay a hefty price.
The club is preparing for a mass clean-out at the end of the season, desperate for new blood to bring about a change of fortune.
Players off-contract include Adam Elliott, Kieran Foran, Kerrod Holland, Jack Cogger, Marcelo Montoya, Sauaso Sue, Isaiah Tass and Aiden Tolman.
The first two on the list are likely to re-sign soon, while in-form back-rower Raymond Faitala-Mariner recently put pen to paper for 2021.
On the credit side, Englishman Luke Thompson made his debut last weekend in the loss to the Broncos and Tim Lafai is close to joining the club from the Dragons.
But the club is after at least four more established first-graders, which means several players will have to go – following departing coach Dean Pay.
MANLY RE-SIGN PROMISING YOUNG PLAYMAKER
Cade Cust is one of the NRL’s up-and-coming playmakers – a youngster the great Andrew Johns recently called a ‘genuine first-grader’.
The Manly youngster has been in hot demand for months but isn’t going anywhere – he has agreed to terms to a new deal with the Sea Eagles and only needs to put pen to paper.
Des Hasler has plenty of halfback options alongside Daly Cherry-Evans but as a former Test half himself, knows a good one when he sees one and isn’t about to let Cust go.
The Sea Eagles are in a hole, with injuries and suspensions seeing them slump to their third straight loss against the Dragons last weekend – but Cust’s show of faith in the face of good offers from rival clubs is a major boost.
EELS ACE TO RE-SIGN AS RIVALS SNIFF AROUND
Reed Mahoney played his best game in the top grade for the Eels in their bruising win over the Knights last weekend – and rival clubs are taking notice.
At 22, Mahoney is one of the best young hookers in the game and has yet to put pen to paper for 2021.
But I’m hearing coach Brad Arthur has made the young Queenslander his top priority for next season and Mahoney should accept an upgraded deal in coming weeks.
The Eels have quite a bit of thinking to do between now and next season with Mahoney, Kane Evans, David Gower, George Jennings, Jaeman Salmon, Will Smith, Ray Stone, Brad Takairangi and Peni Terepo all yet to re-sign.
STORM CIRCLE BULGARIA-BORN BIG MAN
Rugby league continues to spread its wings internationally, with the Storm closely monitoring a young English prop who was born in Bulgaria.
Ethan Havard, just 19, has already made his top-grade debut for Wigan and is regarded among the most promising front-rowers in Super League.
Storm boss Frank Ponissi has met with Havard and his family but the club is likely to leave him in England for at least another season before deciding whether he is ready to make the big move to the NRL.
If the youngster does come, he won’t find a better mentor than Craig Bellamy, who specialises in turning good props into great ones.