Critics don’t concern Bulldogs No.7 Hutchison

Scott Bailey |

Drew Hutchison has been a driving force at No.7 for the Bulldogs in recent weeks.
Drew Hutchison has been a driving force at No.7 for the Bulldogs in recent weeks.

Drew Hutchison remains unfazed by conjecture over his role as Canterbury halfback, insisting criticism of his performances at No.7 has never hurt him.

Hutchison was one of the most scrutinised players before Canterbury’s round-eight bye, with questions over the Bulldogs’ attack carrying into this season.

With Hutchison starting a campaign as a first-choice half for the first time after arriving during pre-season from the Sydney Roosters, the Bulldogs attack again spluttered early.

But their 36 points against Newcastle in round seven took their attacking record to the best it has been in nine years, averaging 20 points a game.

Such is their improvement, the Bulldogs have scored more than double the points they had at the same point in the 2021 and 2022 seasons.

Hutchison is well aware he is not the shining light in that rise, with the Bulldogs’ dangerous left edge of Viliame Kikau, Matt Burton, Bronson Xerri and Josh Addo-Carr firing.

But he is also happy with the job he has done to help unlock the team’s attack as they go into this week’s games sitting eighth.

“You look at the athletes that we have in our team, and I wouldn’t call myself one of them,” Hutchison said.

“My job is to give them as much chance as possible to shine and showcase what they can do, breaking open games.

“That’s always a part of our game plan.”

After bouncing around from St George Illawarra to the Roosters via England, Hutchison said he was well aware of the flak aimed at him this year.

Critics have pointed to the Bulldogs’ halves as their major issue with Toby Sexton stuck in reserve grade, particularly after Canterbury’s round-four loss to South Sydney.

But the 29-year-old Hutchison remains unfazed, believing the 36 points put on Newcastle shows the attack is heading in the right direction.

And nor had he felt the need to reach out to coach Cameron Ciraldo for assurance he was the right man at No.7.

“The only time I hear (the outside noise) is when friends bring it up. But I don’t pay much attention to that,” Hutchison said.

“The only thing we can control is how we play.

“You’re a professional athlete, I don’t think you really need reassurance of your position.”

Ciraldo made a point of publicly backing his halfback this week.

“We’ve been patient, we’ve stuck to what we believe in. To see us get 36 points in our last game was a sign of us getting better every week,” Ciraldo said.

“Drew has been a big part of that. Drew brings a lot to the game that people don’t see.

“He’s really good at guiding the team around the field, helping make other players better. And we really value that.”