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Gus drops hint as Bulldogs’ coach hunt begins

Canterbury boss Phil Gould says he’d like to think the Bulldogs have “hit rock bottom” and has dropped a hint as the search for Trent Barrett‘s replacement begins, pointing to “an experienced man”.

An interim coach will oversee the first-grade side for the remainder of this season and, in the meantime, Gould will mull over his options for the full-time position as he plans to steer the Bulldogs out of muddy waters.

When pressed on Nine’s 100% Footy on Monday night if Paul Green or Shane Flanagan appealed to him, Canterbury’s general manager of football said he expected them to be in the equation.

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Green coached the Cowboys in 167 NRL games and led them to the 2015 premiership, and Flanagan oversaw the Sharks in 185 matches and guided them to the 2016 title.

“I think it’s a job for an experienced man. It’s not an easy situation,” Gould said.

“I can remember on this show two years ago – I wasn’t involved with the Bulldogs – I recommended to Trent Barrett it was a tough job and I wouldn’t be taking it if I was him. Unfortunately it’s worn him out.”

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Flanagan resigned from Cronulla ahead of the 2019 season after the NRL deregistered him due to integrity breaches, while Green quit North Queensland in July 2020 following a dismal start to the season.

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“I’m sure they’ll be in the mix,” Gould said, before forecasting how the process might look.

“I’ll have to see who applies first. No one’s applied as yet. Player managers ring to see when we’re taking applications. Over the next couple of weeks people will start to get busy… and they’ll probably want to have a look inside the Bulldogs and see what they’re up against over the next 18 months.”

The Bulldogs haven’t qualified for finals football since 2016, when they finished in seventh on the ladder and were eliminated by the Panthers in the first week.

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Des Hasler, in charge from 2012 through to 2017, was sacked by the Bulldogs on the back of poor results and a spat with the board.

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Dean Pay, the man for the job from 2018 until July 2020, was axed due to the team’s performance.

And after Steve Georgalis served as interim coach for the rest of the 2020 campaign, Barrett took control in 2021.

The Bulldogs collected the 2021 wooden spoon and, after 10 rounds of this season, remain anchored to the bottom of the ladder.

Barrett walked in the wake of the Bulldogs’ 16-6 loss to the Knights on Friday.

“It’s not going to be an easy time,” Gould said.

“It’s been five years in the making to get the club to this point. I would like to think we hit rock bottom today. I would like to think that it doesn’t go any further back from here. But there’s certainly a tough 18 months ahead.”

The Bulldogs will meet the 15th-placed Wests Tigers at Leichardt Oval on Friday.

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