Dean Pay has paid the price for Canterbury’s poor recent form, with the club confirming he will step down as coach effective immediately.
With the Bulldogs languishing in last spot on the ladder with just one win from nine matches, the club has made the decision to move on from the 51-year-old.
Saturday’s loss to Brisbane was the club’s fifth straight defeat.
Steve Georgallis will take over as the interim coach, while Penrith assistant coach Trent Barrett is one name being mentioned as a possible long-term replacement.
Pay, who played in Canterbury’s 1995 premiership winning side, took over as coach in 2018 following the departure of Des Hasler.
The side hasn’t made the finals in either year of Pay’s tenure, finishing 12th in both 2018 and 2019, winning just 19 of 57 matches under his reign.
“I’d like to thank the Bulldogs for the opportunity to be the head coach at a club that has always meant so much to me,” Pay said in a statement.
Chief executive Andrew Hill thanked Pay for his contribution to the club.
“These situations are always tough, particularly when they involve someone who has been part of the Bulldogs family for a long time,” he said.
“The fact is though that the club and Dean have decided that we needed to move in a different direction to take the team forward and Dean was in agreement that now was the right time for both parties to part ways.
“We did not rush into this decision and have taken our time to look at what was best for the club in regard to success moving forward.
“I’d like to thank Dean for his contribution over the past three years and all the hard work and passion he has given to the club.”
Initially signed to a two-year deal, Pay’s contract was extended last March through until the end of 2020, a move described at the time by Hill as a “show of faith.”
“We believe it is important to give Dean the backing to lead our young squad forward,” Hill said in March 2019.
Phil Gould, who coached Canterbury to a premiership in 1988, praised the effort of Pay in difficult circumstances.
“He took the job on out of a sense of loyalty to the club because they were in a precarious situation,” Gould said on Nine’s 100% Footy.
“There wouldn’t have been too many other established coaches who would have taken on what he did.
Pay inherited a club in disarray, with a host of players on back-ended contracts meaning salary cap constraints prevented them signing any big name stars.
Former NSW Origin coach Laurie Daley said the club’s turbulent off-field atmosphere played a role in Pay’s downfall.
“I think a lot of people would have liked to have seen Dean Pay given another 12 months, given they’ve got some money at their disposal to be able to go out and chase some players,” Daley said on Sky Sports Radio’s The Big Sports Breakfast.
“But obviously that’s come to an end.
“I think the Bulldogs would be an attractive proposition for a coach if they didn’t have all this boardroom drama going on. I think if you had that stability there and you knew you had the support, I think they’d be in a good position because they’ve got money available, they can go to the market, they can attract players.”
The Bulldogs play St George Illawarra in Wollongong on Saturday. Ironically, the Dragons are the one team Canterbury have beaten in 2020, a 22-2 win in round four.