Senior Canterbury forward Josh Jackson has come out in support of Bulldogs coach Des Hasler as conjecture continues to surround his NRL future.
Hasler is set to miss the finals for the first time since his debut coaching year with Manly in 2004 this season, while the Bulldogs’ absence will be their first since 2011.
Canterbury have won seven games this year to sit 13th, while they have scored just 13.7 points per game – on track for their worst attacking year since the Super League war.
But NSW State of Origin second-rower Jackson said the fault could not lay with Hasler.
“We know how important Des is for our team and to the club,” Jackson said.
“He’s a guy who leaves nothing to chance.
“His preparation, the work he puts in for the team and for the club, and the way he looks after us as players, he gives you the motivation to want to go out there and play for him and the club.”
Hasler was re-signed by the club in April, on a deal that secured his future until at least the end of 2019.
However he came under fire from the club’s former captain, Michael Ennis last week, after he accused Hasler of botching the club’s recruitment and retention.
Hasler also attended a Bulldogs’ board meeting on Tuesday night, however chairman Ray Dib has since insisted they are not looking to sack the two-time premiership-winning coach.
Hasler’s future is likely to play a key component of the lead in to next February’s club board election, as speculation mounts of a possible rival ticket led by Paul Dunn.
Crucially, incoming five-eighth Kieran Foran told News Corp Australia on Sunday he’d be disappointed if Hasler wasn’t at the club next season.
Foran does not have a clause in his contract that would allow him to look elsewhere if Hasler wasn’t coach, but said his former Manly mentor was a big reason he was moving to the Bulldogs.
The Bulldogs have also signed NSW prop Aaron Woods for next year, as they attempt to rebuild the club.