Kieran Foran admits he was disappointed not to link again with his former coach Des Hasler at Canterbury but in the same breath says he’s loving working with Dean Pay.
And it seems quite a few Bulldogs players share that sentiment.
“Contrary to popular opinion, I didn’t come here just because of Des. I was disappointed for him the way things turned out,” Foran told NRL.com, referring to Hasler being shown the door in September. The premiership-winning coach has since launched a legal challenge over the way the split took place.
“But I’ve been really enjoying my time under Dean. It’s been great to be coached by him.
“He’s a different style to Des as every coach has their own way. But I am enjoying Dean’s spin on things.
“The boys have really bought into the culture and the type of footy he wants to be played here.”
Foran isn’t the only one enjoying the changing of the guard at Belmore.
“There’s quite a bit of difference. Des was a lot about his videos whereas Dean doesn’t really get into much video,” said back-rower Greg Eastwood.
“He’d rather show us on the field and I kind of prefer that. I don’t like sitting and watching too much video, I’d rather be out there putting into practice those things so I know what he wants me to do.”
Veteran centre Josh Morris, who like Eastwood was present for the Hasler reign from 2012-2017, can also see some stark changes.
“They are completely different. Dean is a bit more laidback in the way he goes about his business than Des,” Morris said.
“But there’s been a lot more emphasis on skill during the pre-season. I feel like I’ve definitely got a lot more skilful.
“Maybe we haven’t really showed it much so far but hopefully the skills and drills sessions we had will show throughout the year, and we create more opportunities on the back of that.”
At the quarter-season mark, the Bulldogs are 2-4. The 27-10 win over North Queensland on Saturday was the most points Pay’s men have scored over 80 minutes.
Skipper Josh Jackson said the “new feel” began when Pay had large banners erected on the western fence celebrating each premiership and grand final the Bulldogs have played.
“It’s great to see what players have done before us. It is a real responsibility of us to make sure we uphold the value of the jersey,” Jackson said. “We are custodians of that jersey now. We want the next generation of players to be proud of us too.
“I can’t pinpoint one or two things that are different because it’s quite a number of things. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy it last year, or the players didn’t. It’s just that is very different and we needed a breath of fresh air.”