Taaffe tasked with being Canterbury’s X-factor supersub

George Clarke |

Blake Taaffe has a new role this week, expected to add impact from the bench for the Bulldogs.
Blake Taaffe has a new role this week, expected to add impact from the bench for the Bulldogs.

Cameron Ciraldo has challenged Blake Taaffe to become Canterbury’s game-breaking supersub as the Bulldogs seek to stop a trend of letting late leads turn into narrow losses.

Winning admirers for their gallant efforts while often undermanned, the outlook on the Dogs’ 2-4 season could be a whole lot different were it not for a trio of tight defeats. 

Canterbury led the Storm in Melbourne with six minutes to go last Friday before falling 16-14.

That result followed a four-point loss to South Sydney and a game against Cronulla which was in the balance right up until the final 10 minutes.

Taaffe was the club’s first-choice fullback until he missed last week with concussion, with coach Ciraldo opting to retain Connor Tracey in the No.1 jersey for Sunday’s home clash with Newcastle.

Blake Taaffe was previously the first-choice fullback. (Mark Evans/AAP PHOTOS)

But the Ciraldo says Taaffe can give the club much-needed spark late on as he prepares to start on the interchange.

“I still think he can create something in those last parts of the game,” Ciraldo said.

“He can come on and play that supersub role and fit in anywhere and he’s open to that.

“If you’re a tired defensive line you wouldn’t want to see Blake Taaffe coming off the bench, fresh on the field.

“We have that up our sleeve and I don’t know how it looks right now but Blake is in our best 17.”

Ciraldo’s first-choice side has chopped and changed all year but the coach is hopeful reliable prop Max King will be at his disposal to face the Knights after missing the Storm clash with a wrist issue.

Canterbury were hammered 42-6 and 66-0 in last season’s clashes with Newcastle but Ciraldo insists the club is in a much-improved place compared to 12 months ago.

“Our biggest strength at the moment is we’re believing in what we’re doing … and we’re believing in the people we’ve got,” Ciraldo said.

“That’s really exciting for me as a coach, but also I’m sure as a player it’s an exciting thing to be a part of.

“I like how we have come together as a group, we’re working hard as a team and putting the team first and if we keep doing that then we’ll be able to play our best as a team.”