Oloapu to make history as young Bulldogs half

Scott Bailey |

Karl Oloapu is set to become Canterbury’s youngest starting half since the Super League war, but coach Cameron Ciraldo has warned the club’s fans to be patient.

Oloapu will start in the No.6 jersey for the Bulldogs against Gold Coast, doing so 123 days after his 18th birthday in January.

After paying a transfer fee to bring him down from Brisbane this year, the Bulldogs have already shown a glimpse of their future by bringing Oloapu off the bench in recent weeks.

And while he will start alongside Matt Burton on Sunday, Ciraldo was adamant the club was still playing the long game with the young halves pairing.

“They’re developing. They’re both young. It’s very exciting what the future can hold for those two,” Ciraldo said. 

“This is their first game starting together. They spent time together during the week getting that combination sorted. 

“We’re not expecting miracles straight up. We just want them both to play their own game and as a whole team we have to support both of them.”

Ciraldo said he believed the time was right for Oloapu to make the step up, after showing some good touches on debut in a win over St George Illawarra earlier ths month.

The Bulldogs have since lost games to Canberra and the Warriors with Josh Reynolds starting at No.6 and Oloapu on the bench.

But Ciraldo said he believed the time was right for Oloapu to take the next step, confirming he will start as named against the Titants after a week of ramped up training.

“Karl is only young, he is 18. But he deserves that opportunity to start the game this weekend and we’re excited about what that can bring,” Ciraldo said.

“We were always going to take it week by week. The longer it’s gone and the more comfortable Karl has felt. 

“I think it is important for him to start the game this weekend but also to have that week at training and also to be able to build that combination with Burto.”

The Bulldogs also expect Josh Addo-Carr to be able to return on the wing, after his comeback from syndesmosis surgery was pushed back one week last round.