Rugby league great Peter Sterling said Bulldogs halfback Kyle Flanagan’s NRL career is at a crossroads after he was hooked at half-time in yesterday’s loss to the Dragons.
With the game still in the balance at 6-0, Trent Barrett opted to take Flanagan from the field and insert Lachlan Lewis into the game.
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“Word from the Bulldogs’ bench is that Kyle Flanagan isn’t injured,” Nine’s sideline reporter Danika Mason said.
“He has been pulled, which is pretty disappointing for his dad Shane Flanagan, who has come to watch him today.”
“It’s harsh, but the very fact that you’re taken out of this contest when the game was still winnable is not a great sign,” Sterling said on Wide World of Sports’ Sterlo’s Wrap.
“I still think he’s probably going to be their best option, but they’ve got to get more out of him.”
Sterling said Flanagan’s knowledge of the game had to improve, and that he needed to attack the line more.
“They had a couple of forwards who dented the line – Kyle has got to be in their slipstream, then who knows what can come from that.”
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While Flanagan isn’t the only halfback that can be accused of playing too structured, it was accentuated in a struggling team – the Bulldogs sit bottom, having won just one game this season.
“It’s not easy at his age, and he is an inexperienced halfback – but he did have pretty much a full season at the Roosters, so he should have learned plenty there,” Sterling said.
“He’s just got to work out where he can be more effective for his football team.”
And while father Shane was in the stands as a parent, Sterling said it would be a good idea for the young halfback to lean on the 2016 grand final-winning coach for advice on how to lift his own game.
“He’s got a nice sounding board there,” he said.
“I don’t know if that happens or not, but I think if I was Kyle, I’d be going to Dad and saying ‘take your hat off as my father and give me some advice as to what you think I should be doing better’.
“It’s a tough situation.”
Sterling said although he was never hooked, he was dropped to reserve grade a couple of times.
“It dents your confidence, but you’ve just got to come back stronger.”
The Bulldogs will play the Raiders at this weekend’s Magic Round.
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