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The Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs and the Western Clydesdales have today announced an affiliation that will provide immense benefits for rugby league across south-west Queensland.

Bulldogs General Manager of Football Phil Gould AM and Clydesdales Chairman Tony Coonan, have today revealed the two clubs have signed a Heads of Agreement that paves the way for a three year partnership between the two clubs, starting in 2023.

The affiliation is a huge boost for rugby league in the south-west and for the Clydesdales as they bid for inclusion in the HostPlus Cup for 2023.

As part of the partnership, the Bulldogs will establish and run an Academy program servicing south-west Queensland, work with the Clydesdales staff on and off the field, and make visits to Toowoomba over the course of the partnership.

In return, the Bulldogs hope to build a bigger following in Queensland and unearth future stars like Steve Price and Johnathan Thurston, who made the move from Toowoomba to Belmore with great success.

Coonan was thrilled the Clydesdales have partnered with a strong and proud club like the Bulldogs.

“It’s incredibly exciting to partner with the Bulldogs given their history of success and promising future as you can see from what they’re building at the moment,” Coonan said.

“The Clydesdales Board and I think this affiliation is a tremendous boost for rugby league in our region as it will help develop and inspire the next generation of players. It also provides a direct pathway from our region through to the NRL.

“On top of that, this affiliation boosts our bid for inclusion in the HostPlus Cup in 2023, which is certainly gaining momentum.

“We want to build our HostPlus Cup squad around local talent so the help of the Bulldogs, and in particular Phil Gould’s experience in developing quality player pathways, will help turn that dream into a reality.

“I want to thank Bulldogs Chairman John Khoury and his Board, along with Phil Gould, for backing the talent across our region. I’m excited to see the mutual benefits that come from a partnership between the game in south-west Queensland and the Bulldogs in south-west Sydney.”

Bulldogs General Manager of Football Phil Gould was excited about the opportunities the partnership would create:

“ I am really excited about this partnership. It will help provide development for young players looking for a career in rugby league. It is important that every team in the Queensland Cup has a pathway through to the NRL. The Bulldogs will satellite the programs that we are running in our own junior league and on the North Coast of New South Wales, directly into the Toowoomba Academy and support the staff that are running those programs.

It’s about participation. Helping junior league in this area and junior league coaches and bringing local players in to the Academy to get the best possible resources and coaching.”

In addition, Bulldogs Chair, John Khoury, looked forward to seeing talented youngsters get a chance to reach their potential:

“As a club, we understand the importance of helping players and coaches get access to the best resources available to help grow the game and see it prosper, particularly in regional areas. The creating of this partnership will offer major benefits both on and off the field, and we believe that it will greatly help the development of talent in the area.

A lot of young kids grow up aspiring to play in the NRL and by creating this stepping stone, we believe that local talent will get a chance to live out those dreams. The Bulldogs have always been a development club that has looked to give young players the opportunity to fulfil their potential, and we believe this partnership will have a major impact in that area.”