Phil Gould urged Canterbury fans to be patient as he assured them the Bulldogs would once again become an NRL powerhouse and signaled a massive roster overhaul was underway ahead of the 2024 season.
Proud club Belmore are at rock bottom with Trent Barrett stepping down as manager this week as the team’s disastrous form on the pitch drags into another season.
The Dogs haven’t made the NRL Finals since 2016 and have slipped back on the ladder every season since. They are the shadow of the team that played in the Grand Finals in 2012 and 2014.
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Des Hasler steered the club to such heights, but the team began to deteriorate under his leadership, before his departure in 2017.
He was replaced by Dean Pay, who was replaced by Barrett, and now the Belmore board is looking for a fourth coach in five years.
“The Bulldogs are a great club. They have a huge fanbase and the club has been in the doldrums for years,” the club’s chief football officer Gould told Wide World of Sports. Six tackles with Gus Podcast.
“Losing is not unusual for them this year, it got worse over time. They only won three games in 2020, they only won three games in 2021.”
Gould arrived in Belmore last year with a job to do – resuscitate the club and make the NRL side once again a contender for the premiership.
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Gould’s plan to overhaul the Bulldogs
Fans are left frustrated as the team find themselves at the bottom of the competition again – last week’s loss to Newcastle the final nail in Barrett’s coaching coffin.
Gould was asked what was needed to rectify the situation.
“Time, hard work and development,” he said.
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“I keep saying it’s a trip down the mines, it’s a tough time in the club’s history.
“I know it’s frustrating, but you can’t just wave a magic wand and fix this. It took a long time to get into this state, you don’t suddenly reverse it in a day.
“To fix it properly for the future, what most clubs do in these situations, and the Bulldogs have done that, is recruit their way out of trouble…and sometimes recruit out of desperation just to win. a few games and get rid of the media. .
“That’s not the way to fix the club, you have to have a long-term view. It’s kind of like saying ‘okay, I know you’ve lost a long time, but there will be more before I get better”. That’s how it’s going to be.
“It’s the truth. Whether people are willing to accept it or not, it’s the truth.
“My goal is for the Bulldogs to never be in that position again. This club should never be in that position again.
“It’s my goal, that when my time is up with the Bulldogs, they will never have to put up with that again. They will have a recruiting and development program that will support them long into the future.”
The Bulldogs’ recruitment was lambasted in the days following the loss to Newcastle.
For too long Canterbury have been accused of spending too much money on second-rate players, or those who don’t impact the outcome of games.
Gould personally oversaw the recruitment of Viliame Kikau, Reed Mahoney and Ryan Sutton, who will join the club next season.
He says that while the Bulldogs’ salary cap isn’t perfect right now, things are looking good for the 2024 season.
“The thing I can tell you about the salary cap for 2024, which is only 18 months away, we only have five or six players under contract,” he said.
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“So our salary cap is actually in really good shape. Not right now, but in 18 months we have the opportunity to totally reshape the look of the Bulldogs, the culture of the Bulldogs.”
Along with going out there and buying stars, Gould is busy establishing programs at Belmore that will keep the team healthy for years to come.
“What we’re looking at is…to put in place the framework for an academy system that will provide a steady stream of young talent entering the upper ranks there for a long period of time,” Gould said.
“It hasn’t been in place, it’s been neglected for a long time, so we have players showing NRL potential in the junior ranks, but far from enough.
“I have to go out – and have been active – interviewing parents and players. I was up there in Brisbane over the weekend… and interviewed 15 families with young boys aged 18-21 who I think have the potential to be in the NRL roster by 2024.
“I want an academy that starts at 14, 15, 16 for homegrown talent and other talent that we recruit to be developed as Bulldogs from those teenage years.
“We also have a lot of money and a lot of positions to fill for 2024. So we only have five or six under contract, and we have a lot of money.
“From 2024 I think that’s where we really pick up momentum and where we start. I think we’re in great shape if people are patient.”
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