Close your eyes and think about each of the 17 NRL clubs, then picture who the most crucial person there is. It’s likely to be a coach or player, given that they are the most essential figures at rugby league clubs. The Wests Tigers and Bulldogs are exceptions to this. The offseason has been filled with coverage of Phil Gould, who is one of the game’s enduring figures with a resume that few can match. His status as a leading official at one of the game’s biggest drawcards ensures the dominance of media coverage. Critics worry that when Gould is the story and not the players, the pressure will fall on him. His plan to transform the Bulldogs might come at the cost of too much turnover on the roster. The talent on the roster is significant, but the strategy behind the acquisitions is unclear. If the acquisitions fail, the responsibility will fall on Gould.

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