NRL: Coach hopes new signing Dallin Watene-Zelezniak can lift lowly Bulldogs

Dallin Watene-Zelezniak has joined the Bulldogs on a 18-month contract.
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Dallin Watene-Zelezniak has joined the Bulldogs on a 18-month contract.

Canterbury coach Dean Pay is confident mid-season pick-up Dallin Watene-Zelezniak will provide the boost they need to lift them off the bottom of the table.

The Bulldogs were barely in the contest in a 36-12 defeat to St George Illawarra on Monday that left them with four defeats in their past five NRL matches.

However they'll be boosted by the addition of Watene-Zelezniak, who signed with the club on an 18-month deal after being granted a release from Penrith.

"I've had a little bit to do with him over the last couple of weeks. He's a leader. The way he plays his footy, he's going to help," Pay said.

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"Talking to him, he's really excited to get back out there. He's going to bring a lot of energy to our place. I think he'll improve us."

Pay was cagey when asked if the New Zealand skipper would start in his preferred position at fullback in next week's match against Manly.

Current No.1 Nick Meaney leads the team in tackle breaks with 27, and carried the ball for 142 metres against the Dragons.

He is also currently their first-choice goalkicker with a 75 per cent strike rate.

"I spoke to [Dallin] about how we've got Nick here. He understood that," Pay said.

"I said, 'When you start here, it'll be the best man for the job and that's how we'll determine where you play'.

"We'll make that decision during the week. I've got something in my head but it could change during the week."

Watene-Zelezniak's addition completes the Bulldogs' top-30 roster, ruling the club out of any other roster changes ahead of the June 30 deadline.

While seemingly out of the finals hunt halfway through the season, Pay said it is all about improving each player in the squad.

Only two players that played against the Dragons are off-contract.

"We're trying as hard as we possibly can to turn these kids into the best players they can possibly be. Moving forward, that's what we want," he said.

"We want to keep them here at the club, but we want players here that are going to make sure that we challenge for semifinals, challenge for the top four."

AAP