Canterbury coach Des Hasler has bristled at suggestions the club’s play book needs to be thrown out while insisting he can deliver an NRL premiership in the next two years.
The club on Monday ended six months of intense speculation about the two-time title winner’s future by signing him to an extension which will keep him at the club until the end of 2019.
At times Hasler seemed likely to be punted from Belmore after his team faded badly in the last month of the 2016 season and started this year poorly.
Discussions have centred on whether the Dogs can win a premiership under Hasler’s style which has been criticised as being predictable and relying too much on his forwards to do the playmaking.
Hasler – who has taken the Dogs to five straight finals series and two grand finals during his tenure – seemed to take exception to questions about whether they need to change tactics to win the club’s first title since 2004.
“Do you think it does? What style of footy are we playing?” he fired back at one journalist.
When it was suggested they were forward-oriented, he said: “Forwards are part of the game. We don’t have to (change), we’ve been playing a good style of footy, we’ve been playing catch-pass. Don’t turn something simple into something difficult.”
Hasler, who has full control over the club’s retention and recruitment program, will now turn his eye to the open market and a possible roster overhaul.
Wests Tigers fullback James Tedesco has been linked with the club, Kieran Foran has a strong association with Hasler through their time together at Manly while Cooper Cronk on Tuesday put himself on the open market ahead of his move to Sydney for personal reasons.
Five-eighth Josh Reynolds, fullback Will Hopoate and hooker Michael Lichaa are off contract and their departures could open up salary cap space.
Asked if they could win a premiership before his contract is up, Hasler said: “Definitely.”
Hasler was re-signed after his team rebounded to the winner’s circle with a hard-fought victory over Brisbane on Thursday.
His future came under scrutiny after they were thumped by Manly the week prior, however club chief executive Raelene Castle said the side’s form had never affected negotiations.
“Results have never been part of the discussion, it’s about having the right head coach to take the Bulldogs forward and we know we’ve got that in Des,” Castle said.
Asked if Hasler was the man to take them to a premiership, she said: “Absolutely, that’s why we’ve signed him for the next two years.”