Canterbury Bulldogs general manager and NRL great Phil Gould believes Lewis Dodd is currently the ‘right age’ to test himself in Australia.
Dodd, 21, is contracted with reigning Super League champions and history makers St Helens until the end of 2024.
However, speculation surfaced about his interest in a move to the NRL after the half-back signed with a new Australian agency earlier this year.
Dodd signed with SFX Sports Down Under, although current head coach Paul Wellens remains confident of retaining the rising prospect.
A product of Saints’ academy, Dodd has made 50 appearances for the club, scoring 16 tries and kicking 11 goals.
He received high praise and reported interest following his performance in the World Club Challenge, kicking the winning golden point drop goal against Penrith Panthers in February.
Boss Wellens previously told Love Rugby League: “Lewis is a great young lad and like any player does, he has the right to sign with any manager or agency as they want.
“We respect those decisions, and Lewis is with us in 2023 and is contracted for 2024.
“We’ll obviously do all we can as a club to try and keep him here. He’s a player we love and value and we feel he is instrumental to our continued success.
“But also, Lewis is a grown adult who can make decisions for himself. What I do know with Lewis and his relationship with the club is that it’s a respectful one.
“So any conversations that happen, whether that’s now or three months, six or 12, they’ll be done in the right way.
“There’s nothing more to really add on the matter.”
Lewis Dodd backed for NRL switch
However, Bulldogs general manager, former coach and Australian broadcaster Gould has backed Dodd to make the switch into the NRL.
Responding to a fan’s question on the Saints #7, Gould wrote: “Good player. It would be a good test for him over here.
“[He’s] probably the right age now to give it a try.”
Good player. It would be a good test for him over here. Probably at the right age now to give it a try. https://t.co/FBiLGMBlfM
— Phil Gould (@PhilGould15) June 14, 2023
Options for St Helens youngster
Canterbury Bulldogs are unlikely to be in the market for new half-backs for 2024, with Matt Burton, Khaled Rajab, Karl Oloapu, Hayze Perham and Kyle Flanagan currently contracted, although the latter has recently fallen down the pecking order with just eight appearances this season.
Josh Reynolds is also currently contracted with the club for the 2023 season after impressing on trial for an NRL return.
Dodd has previously been warned against joining NRL strugglers Wests Tigers, with Luke Brooks now set for an exit after reportedly turning down a contract extension.
St Helens CEO Mike Rush has reportedly told Dodd to avoid the struggling club, according to The Daily Telegraph.
“Lewis Dodd, he’s a 21-year-old St Helens halfback who played opposite Nathan Cleary in the World Club Challenge, he not only matched Nathan Cleary but kicked the winning field goal,” Phil Rothfield said on Big Sports Breakfast, via Fox Sports.
“He’s told Mike Rush, the St Helens boss, that at the end of next season he wants to leave the Super League and get a job in the NRL like a lot of great English halfbacks have done over a long period of time. It’s really exciting that he’s coming out here.
“Mike Rush is a real student of the game and the NRL and he has told the kid that he has to be choosy about his destination in the NRL and quite bluntly has said, ‘Look Wests Tigers is not the club for you’.
“He thinks he should join one of the stronger clubs.”
Meanwhile, Sydney Roosters are set for a squad overhaul for 2024 which could open an opportunity for Dodd under head coach Trent Robinson.