THE embattled Bulldogs are set for more upheaval, with star Englishman James Graham in danger of losing the club captaincy.
As part of the makeover that has led to several staffers being sacked and coach Des Hasler stripped of some power, Graham is struggling to retain the leadership role.
Elements within the club are concerned at Graham’s fiery temperament and relationship with referees, and believe he’ll play his best football without the burden of captaincy in 2017.
“There are a lot of things changing at the club and there are people who feel we also need a change of leadership – on and off the field,” a Bulldogs source tells RLW.
“James is a great competitor and is well liked within the group. But he’s such a fierce competitor that he sometimes oversteps the mark with referees and you can’t have your captain doing that in this day and age.”
Graham was appointed Bulldogs captain last year when Michael Ennis left the club for Cronulla and quickly found himself embroiled in one of the biggest controversies of last year.
After conceding a contentious late penalty that cost the Bulldogs a fiery clash against Souths, Graham protested vehemently to referee Gerard Sutton. Irate Bulldogs fans saw his fury as a call to arms and several threw bottles at the referees, resulting in one official being injured.
Graham was later cited and suspended for four games for his role in the unsavoury incident.
He’s mellowed somewhat since then but continues to test the patience of officials in some games.
Bulldogs coach Des Hasler, knowing his own future is on the line, is prepared to consider several other candidates for the vital captaincy role in 2017, including fiery five-eighth Josh Reynolds, consistent forward Aiden Tolman and young halfback Moses Mbye.