Canterbury Bulldogs vs. Parramatta Eels: NRL star Dallin Watene-Zelezniak confirms switch, New Zealand Warriors

A New Zealand international told his teammates he has played his last game for his current club and will switch to a rival immediately.

Dallin Watene-Zelezniak has told his teammates that he will be leaving the Bulldogs following their 36-10 loss to the Eels at Bankwest Stadium.

Nothing has been confirmed by either club, but it appears as though he will link up with the Warriors after the upcoming bye.

The 25-year-old addressed the playing group and coaching staff on Sunday, before several Bulldogs responded with a powerful Haka to thank him for his time at the club.

“Luke Goodwin from welfare and Jezza (Jeremy Marshall-King) and Ray (Raymond Faitala-Mariner) stepped in and did a nice Haka for him. It was good to see,” fullback Nick Meaney said.

“Dal’s been a big part of our squad for the last two years now. He said his words and it’s very emotional losing one of your close mates.”

For 40 minutes of their game on Sunday, it looked like the Bulldogs were going to pull off the upset of the season, but a calamitous error and subsequent penalty try woke the Eels from their slumber as they stormed home to stay in third spot.

The Eels struggled in slippery conditions as Canterbury jumped out to a 10-6 lead at that break, but everything turned in the 45th minute when the blue and whites produced a moment of madness coming out of their own end.

Halfback Jake Averillo fired a pass on the last tackle that cannoned into Dylan Napa, with the big man choosing to watch the ball instead of falling on it.

Mitchell Moses then toed it through and was taken out by a desperate Brandon Wakeham, leaving the Bunker no choice but to award a penalty try.

It sparked a 30-0 run that didn’t do justice to the contest as the Eels flexed their muscles to claim another two points before the week off.

Russell’s dream debut

Just weeks after he travelled to Brisbane to see his good mate Jakob Arthur make his NRL debut, Sean Russell got his own magical moment with two tries as he lived out a childhood dream in the blue and gold jersey.

The 19-year-old beat out Blake Ferguson to replace the suspended Maika Sivo and did himself proud to help Parramatta overcome a slow start to beat the Bulldogs at Bankwest Stadium.

“I’ve been watching these boys for a long time, so to get to run out in this jersey at Bankwest is a dream come true,” the Rouse Hill Rhinos junior said after the game.

“Jake was telling me how good it was, and now I’ve had a taste of it and the chance to experience it. It’s the best.”

Russell had 50 friends and family there to support him just days after he was told by skipper Clint Gutherson that he’d done enough to make the NRL team after impressing with eight tries in 12 games in reserve grade.

“I got told on Tuesday at training,” he said.

“Gutho told me in front of the boys and that was the best feeling. I didn’t really (think it was coming) but it was in the back of my mind. I didn’t really want to think about it, but then I saw all the boys on the field and Gutho told me that I was going to get a crack to make my debut. My heart just dropped and all the boys got around me.

“I thought I’d be a little bit worse (with nerves). It didn’t really hit me until Wednesday night when I was lying in bed and it came to me. All the boys were messaging me.”

The Patrician Brothers Blacktown graduate would have been thrilled with his first appearance, but nothing will top the three-minute burst at the death that saw him score two tries in the corner.

The teenager grew up idolising players like Clint Gutherson and Mitch Moses as he made his way through SG Ball and Harold Matts alongside emerging star Will Penisini.

On Sunday, Parramatta’s biggest names made sure Russell would have a debut to remember as they did everything in their power to get him over the line.

“I just saw Gutho get the ball out the back and it came straight to my chest. All I had to do was catch it and put it down, so big rap to him,” he said of his first four-pointer.

“It’s the best. It gives me a lot of confidence going into games knowing that they have my back like that. I’ve been training with these boys all pre-season and they’ve been the best for me.”

His coach couldn’t have been any happier, and took great pride in seeing his senior players work so hard to make his special day as memorable as possible.

“They tried very hard to get him a try, didn’t they? It’s good that the players feel that’s important for a young bloke making his debut,” Brad Arthur said.

“That’s pretty special that he got one try, let alone two tries. The boys made sure that they gave him every opportunity for that.”

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