Barrett wants better for Bulldogs halves

Scott Bailey |

Trent Barrett wants Canterbury’s players to give their halves more chance to take control as the Bulldogs attempt to end their lacklustre run of four straight losses.

A revamped Canterbury have scored just 40 points across the first five rounds, with their only win coming against North Queensland in their opening game.

Barrett bristled at a question following last Sunday’s loss to Penrith over his No.7s’ lack of touches, having cycled through three halfbacks already this year.

Kyle Flanagan touched the ball just 23 times in 37 sets against the Panthers, well down on others halves from losing teams last weekend.

The Bulldogs coach admitted on Wednesday he wanted his halves to have a greater impact, while also certain that did not solely fall upon them ahead of the Good Friday clash with South Sydney.

“We only had eight good-ball sets last week,” Barrett said.

“When you are bringing the ball out of your own end, the No.7 is generally going to not touch the ball as many times as others.

“Burto (five-eighth Matt Burton) being our dominant kicker too, there are another 15 touches too. There are some reasons in and around that.

“But certainly you’d like your halfback with his hands on the footy. We’ll keep working towards that.”

Barrett is also hopeful that will come with time, along with Flanagan’s willingness to run the ball.

The 23-year-old was a controversial returnee against Penrith, brought back to organise and help free Burton up to run.

But Barrett also wants to see Flanagan gain the confidence to run, after only doing so once in the loss to the Panthers.

The former Cronulla and Sydney Roosters No.7 took on the line more than any other player in the first month of the NSW Cup this year, as Canterbury sat undefeated in reserve grade.

“Your halves need a lot of things going well around them for them to be functioning as well. I would never put it all on the halfback or five-eighth,” he said.

“Our back five have some improving to do with where we were last week.

“It’s not only Kyle (who has to organise), but (hooker Jeremy) Marshall-King has a responsibility there as well.

“It’s certainly not all on Kyle, but we need all our spine to be functioning well.

“The more times they play together, the better they will be. But I thought it was a good start from Kyle last week.”