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The Bulldog T-shirt showing a Bulldog choking the life out of a Rooster with the words "Bred Not Bought" emblazoned across it has upset the cafe latte set and rightly so.
The T-shirt modelled on the Bulldogs website by a svelte Jarrad Hickey, was created to to ramp up the rivalry between the two teams that have grown to despise each other, particularly recently with the Roosters grabbing four of the Bulldogs' best in Braith Anasta, Nate Myles, Mark O'Meley and Willie Mason. The latter really stirred the pot when he left in acrimonious circumstances during the off-season bagging the club, the coach, the administration in the process.
The creators of the T-shirt were on the right track however in slightly missing the point, attracted criticism from all things eastern suburbs from one of the club's greatest players in Artie Beetson to humble supporters in Nigel and Parker who openly admit they were positively peeved by a piece of apparel their Dogs wouldn't be caught dead in. How ironic!
Had it instead been labelled "Made Not Paid", it would not only have been more accurate, it would have cut off any attempts to denigrate it with a plausible argument. The opponents of the shirt have come out and correctly stated that Anasta's a Souths junior, Myles a Queenslander, O'Meley from the Central Coast and Mason from Newcastle. True, and Sonny Bill Williams is from New Zealand, but they were all unproven when they started their careers at the Bulldogs and it was the Belmore-based club that developed them into representative players.
In Sonny Bill's case into potentially one of the greatest of all time. He stuck solid with the Bulldogs when the other three walked, Mason when still contracted to the club.
His departure was made more unpalatable with Mason citing the fact the Bulldogs wouldn't allow him to box, as the final straw. Since his switch to the Roosters he has been challenged by every man and his dog (there's that word again) yet for reasons only known to Mason and his manager, there remains no confirmed opponent. It was reported that Cowboys hardman Carl Webb is one of those willing to duke it out with Mason. I'd like to see that! Events surrounding this part of Mason's life would suggest that could be wishful thinking.
Word has it if Mason issues a challenge to players from his former club to step into the ring against him, he will be quickly accommodated by the likes of Reni Maitua or Williams, both regarded as more than handy at the fight game.
"I saw Sonny knock out two guys in a lower grade game some years ago and he was that quick with his hands it was all over in a heartbeat," said a former Bulldog official. "Funny thing he didn't even get sent off."
All clubs have hard luck stories about developing players and losing them. Superstar in the making Israel Folau leaving the Storm to head to Brisbane, the latest example. But no club has suffered to the extent to that of the Bulldogs.
As well as putting the polish on the Rooster quartet, the Bulldogs can also lay claim to doing likewise to other departed and departing stars in Roy Asotasi, Jonathan Thurston, Steve Price, Isaac Luke, Karlos Filiga and Willie Tonga, who