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Des Hasler will get Canterbury Bulldogs back on track, says Warren Ryan

Full support: Former Bulldogs premiership coach Warren Ryan is confident Des Hasler can transform the Dogs back into title contenders. Photo: Sahlan Hayes Still around: Bulldogs coach Des Hasler has survived an extraordinary board meeting. Photo: Getty Images
Nanjing Night Net

Canterbury coaching great Warren Ryan says the club has put “unnecessary pressure” on Des Hasler, but believes the two-time premiership-winning mentor is capable of making the changes required to transform the Bulldogs into genuine title contenders next year.

Hasler survived the threat of the axe at an emergency board meeting at ANZ Stadium on Friday, at which directors discussed the clipboard holder’s future. However, legendary clubman Steve Mortimer stood down as a director, a consequence of his decision to publicly question Hasler’s suitability for the role.

Hasler is guaranteed to see out the final year of his contract, although speculation will continue about his long-term future after the board held off on ratifying a two-year contract extension.

Ryan, who won back-to-back titles coaching Canterbury in 1984-85, said Hasler was capable of making the adjustments required to the side’s “ponderous” playing style.

“They have put unnecessary pressure on Des, but he will sort out the necessary steps to play a brand of football that is a bit more threatening than the one they are currently playing,” Ryan said.

“They look ponderous at the moment because their play is too forward dominated. Their halves have got to do more, blind Freddie can see that.

“Des is smart enough to get it happening because his record shows he’s a successful coach. If Blind Freddie can see the problem, I’m sure Des can.”

Hasler has coached the side to five consecutive finals appearances, including two grand finals. However, the inability to win a premiership during that period, coupled with Mortimer’s observation the club was “losing our DNA” with Hasler at the helm, increased the pressure on the former Manly mentor.

Hasler will now need to adhere to a stricter budget and will have less control over all operations of the football program. However, it is the playing style that will likely require the greatest overhaul.

Ryan said it was necessary to fast-track the development of Moses Mbye into a dominant halfback and give his skilful forwards, such as James Graham, more options when carrying the ball.

“James Graham isn’t going to the line with all the options they had when they were playing very well a few years ago,” Ryan said.

“He used to have an inside option, a short option on the outside of his hip and one at the back if needed. He’s going to the line on his own now when he can ball play.

“The development of the half [Mbye] is most important. He hasn’t developed under the regime of forward-dominated play. When he does cut loose, he has speed, so he can provide quite an injection of attack to the team that was missing.

“Des is smart and will sort out what is required, so you will see a better performance from them next year.”

Mortimer will remain a director on the Canterbury Leagues Club board and has also agreed to remain involved with the club via an alumni program Hasler will oversee to mentor younger players. Mortimer’s departure has left a vacancy on the Bulldogs board that is expected to be filled during the off-season.

The Bulldogs will have some important recruitment and retention decisions to make going forward, although it is unclear with whom they will rest. Former talent spotters Noel Cleal and Jim Whitney have left the club and replacements are yet to be named.

Former NSW pivot Josh Reynolds headlines a list of key players off contract at the end of next year that includes fullback Will Hopoate, hooker Michael Lichaa and prop Aiden Tolman.

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

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