Chase returns 'home' to the Bulldogs

RUGBY LEAGUE

He has had two stints at St George Illawarra and one at Melbourne but Chase Stanley feels like he is heading home to the Bulldogs.

"I grew up around Belmore I played my first football here when I was young. I was a junior here," he said.

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"The first first-grade game I watched was at Belmore - Auckland Warriors against the Bulldogs.

"I've been a local; born and bred in the area so it felt like I was coming back to a home.

"I know the area pretty well, and the people around here. That always helps."

Stanley, a former New Zealand representative, went to school at Belmore South, and knocked around with Bulldogs five-eighth Josh Reynolds, his new teammate.

"Our families were pretty close when we were younger, but we moved away," Stanley said.

"But we kept in touch.

"I know a few of the boys. That definitely helps, getting used to the Bulldogs culture."

Now 24, Stanley was one of Bulldogs coach Des Hasler's few signings for the 2014 season.

After fullback Ben Barba departed, that will place pressure on him, as well as the team, but he is relishing the challenge.

"I just needed a fresh start," Stanley said. "I was off contract, and this was a good opportunity for me.

"We didn't have the best year at the Dragons. It was a bit frustrating, knowing we could have done a bit better with the team that we had. It was a disappointing year, but I'm sure they're going to grow from that."

He has high expectations for the Bulldogs.

"There are a lot of great players here and a lot of depth," Stanley said. "I look forward to being a part of it.

"I just want to have a good pre-season - that's where it all starts - and be a part of the culture. I want to keep learning."

Where Hasler sees him fitting in remains to be seen. Hasler, as yet, has not pulled off the expected acquisition of a fullback to replace Barba, which means spots all across the Bulldogs' backline are not cemented yet.

Stanley can play most of them, and is approaching his fresh start with an open mind, preferring not to focus on any one position.

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