Everyone agrees that there are some serious issues with which the Canterbury Bulldogs must deal, but there is far from anything resembling a consensus as to what should be done.
Few Bulldogs critics hold the players responsible. The NRL has come more and more to the position that seems to dominate the National Football League in the U.S. – any underperforming team can benefit from firing its coach.
Canterbury – Bankstown Bulldog legend Graeme Hughes seems to be squarely in that camp, although he would like to see the backside of not only head Coach Des Hasler, but several of the club’s board members as well.
Hughes and his two brothers, Garry and Mark, played prominent roles in the Dogs’ 1980 premiership side, helping to foster a culture of competitiveness despite any adversity.
The Dogs have declined precipitously over the past two seasons and the situation is compounded by the fact that they have been shopping five of their best players as a way of getting in under the salary cap for next season.
So contentious is Hasler’s tenure that a narrow vote by the board to retain him last year caused Steve Mortimer to resign his post on the Dogs’ governing board.
Hasler has won premierships, two of them, in 2008, when he coached the Manly Sea Eagles to a 40 – 0 Grand Final win over the Melbourne Storm and again for those same Eagles in 2011, this one a 24 – 10 victory over the New Zealand Warriors.
That was six years ago, which as everyone knows, is 42 years in Bulldog years, so even though he had immediate success when he took over the Dogs in 2012, the Dogs cognoscenti cannot let go of the 2012 Grand Final loss to the Storm. Minor premierships mean nothing to an NRL franchise that proudly claims eight premierships, the last in 2004, or 91 years in Dog time.