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Canterbury Bulldogs reassess lofty goals but Des Hasler man to chase them: Raelene Castle

Des still the man: Raelene Castle is confident Hasler is the right coach to break the Bulldogs’ title drought. Photo: Sarah KeayesCanterbury chief executive Raelene Castle concedes the Bulldogs are unlikely to achieve their stated goal of winning two premierships by 2019, but she is adamant Des Hasler represents the best chance of breaking a concerning title drought.
Nanjing Night Net

Hasler’s immediate future was guaranteed following an emergency board meeting at ANZ Stadium on Friday to discuss his tenure. The two-time premiership-winning coach will see out the final year of his contract, with discussions for a two-year extension set to continue beyond the six-month mark.

Hasler was under pressure after a disappointing 2016 campaign that ended in the opening week of the playoffs. The pressure was exacerbated when director Steve Mortimer, echoing the sentiments of fellow great Terry Lamb, questioned whether Hasler was the right fit at Belmore.

While Hasler’s 60 per cent winning record – which includes two grand final appearances – at the Bulldogs is impressive, Castle makes no apologies for expectations being set higher at Belmore than at other clubs.

“The bar is set very high and that’s been the Canterbury way for a long period of time,” Castle told Fairfax Media.

“That’s based on the success and expectation of our fans, members, playing group and coaching staff and board leadership.

“Seventh or eighth is not good enough and we are looking for that elusive premiership. It’s been 12 years since we won one and that’s too long, so it is a very high bar.”

Canterbury set themselves the bold target of winning two premierships by 2019 as part of the club’s strategic plan. Castle now admits that goal is unlikely to be achieved.

“Two wins by 2019 is very ambitious now,” she said.

“I’m on record as saying strategic plans are about ambition and there is no club that wouldn’t aspire to winning two premierships by 2019.

“While that created a media focus and success on the footy field for all clubs is the No.1 focus, the other underpinning elements can’t be forgotten and are also very important. The holistic approach of a strategic plan is obviously about football, but other elements about commercial success, strong pathways and a good presence in the community are what make a club.”

Castle denied extension talks with Hasler had been put on the backburner following the recent dramas and said she was confident he would remain at Canterbury long term.

“The disappointing thing is that there’s been speculation this is about Turvey versus Hasler and that there’s been a winner and loser,” Castle said.

“That’s not the case. There has been some robust discussion and Turvey recognises he made some comments which then meant he had to step down from the board.

“But his wisdom and experience is something we need to ensure remains inside the Bulldogs and that association will continue with him as a mentor as part of the alumni program.

“Hasler can continue with the 100 per cent united support of the board. We continue with his management team to seek an outcome that works for both of us going forward.”

High bar: Hasler needs to deliver a premiership to Canterbury with the club restless after a 12-year drought. Photo: Renee McKay

Hasler is likely to have a stricter football budget to work to for future campaigns. The Bulldogs have privately raised concerns about his expenditure, while the NRL will impose a cap on football department spending on all clubs from 2018.

“Two grand finals in five years – there are only two teams that have done that,” Castle said.

“That’s a good achievement, but we haven’t done the thing we really need to do, which is to win a grand final.

“The budget needs to be appropriately aligned so we can achieve that goal.

“There should always be a testing of football budgets, as there is on commercial or marketing budgets to make sure you are spending the money effectively because it’s an important part of the governance process.

“The discussion is not about Hasler, the discussion is about making sure we have a football budget that’s appropriate for our business at the current time that allows us to be competitive on the field and in line with our business goal.”

Hasler is one of the few modern-day Bulldogs coaches not to have played for the club.

Asked if the discourse about “DNA” and culture was relevant in the Hasler discussions, Castle said: “It’s got to be relevant because when you come to Belmore, you only need to be inside the building to realise the culture and history leaches out of the walls.

“That is important and anything we can do to keep the history alive and relevant, and also recognise the modern game and techniques and keeping the right people in the right jobs – whether they be Bulldogs or not – is important. Marrying those two together is an important part of marrying the two going forward.”

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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