The Bulldogs are stuck in no man’s land and must make a decision on coach Dean Pay’s future to start their climb out of the abyss, Phil Gould says.
Canterbury are last in the NRL with a single win this season, having lost 26-8 to a poorly-performed Brisbane team on Saturday.
Pay called for clarity over his future after the match. He may get it at a club board meeting this week.
Gould, a premiership-winning Bulldogs coach in 1988, told Wide World of Sports that Canterbury would go nowhere until a definitive call was made.
“I’ve got no idea the way the Bulldogs are thinking at the moment, I just know that they probably need – for everybody’s sake there – to make a decision on what it looks like for next year,” Gould said on The Final Whistle.
“There’s players coming off-contract, there are players considering offers from other clubs, there are young fellas in the club wondering where their future lies, there’ll be staff and coaches wondering what they’re doing.
“And it’s not a good environment. I’ve seen this plenty of times over the years. You can’t have your side functioning in that sort of environment.
“They’re already looking towards next year, they’re not going to make the eight this season. They’ve got to use the rest of this year as a run-up into next year’s preparation and getting ready for next year.
“They’ve got to consider their salary cap and their options for recruitment. Right at the moment, they can’t go out and recruit anyone, they can’t re-sign anyone, they can’t develop anyone because it’s all just in a state of flux.
“They’ve just got to turn around and make some decisions and put everyone’s mind [at ease]. I don’t care what those decisions are, I’ve got no idea what they might be; but they’ve got to make some decisions so that everyone knows where they’re going and they can draw a line in the sand and say, ‘All right, well, from tomorrow we’re working towards next year, this is who we’re going with and what we’ve got to do’.”
Pay sacking ‘unfair’, Raiders gone: JT
Former Bulldogs premiership winner Johnathan Thurston said on Sunday that sacking Pay would be “unfair” because he’d been given little say over the substandard roster at his disposal.
That may not save the coach’s neck, with long-running speculation that he may be axed. Pay took Canterbury to 12th-placed finishes in the past two seasons; again with teams that were lightly regarded compared with their NRL opponents, thanks to ongoing salary cap problems and injuries to key players like Kieran Foran.
The Bulldogs just welcomed outstanding England Test prop Luke Thompson to the club but are otherwise gravely thin on elite talent.
They missed out on John Bateman when the Canberra back-rower opted to return to Wigan and are reportedly making a big play for Raiders and NSW Origin star Nick Cotric; who would surely want clarity on the coaching position before giving serious consideration to changing clubs.