Batten down the hatches, Des Hasler finally has that siege mentality that he craves. Its the “Dogs of war” against everyone else and if your not with the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs, you’re against them.
Hasler has his players and Canterbury officials truly believing this is war. Some might say it is.
The Bulldogs mentor has been served with a $10,000 breach notice by the National Rugby League after comments made at the post-match press conference in Newcastle on Saturday night.
Despite winning the match and sealing their tenth consecutive victory, Hasler made it blatantly obvious that $10,000 is a small price to pay to keep the siege rolling.
“One thing I couldn’t understand was toward the back end of the first half the referees are talking between themselves saying: this game is going to change, this game is going to change, this game is going to change and the next time there’s, you know, we get a run of penalties there’s four penalties against us” Hasler said.
Bulldogs Chief Executive Officer Todd Greenberg confirmed the club will lodge an appeal against the fine.
All part of Hasler’s tactics. But other coaches can see straight through the smoke and mirrors.
“I don’t know whether Des is really fooling anyone these days” Melbourne Storm’s Craig Bellamy told AAP a few weeks ago.
“They’ve been a really good side for most of the year after a few early hiccups.
“They’re definitely the benchmark, without a doubt.
“They’re the form team of the competition, I wouldn’t say by a mile but they’re a fair way ahead of anyone else with what they’ve done in the last six weeks.”
Newcastle Knights coach Wayne Bennett believes Hasler’s comments are just another ploy to deflect the attention away from the impressive form of his side.
“I’m not into benchmarking” Bennett said at the post-match presser.
“They are playing really consistently and that is what you want as a coach. The rest of it is just people’s perception and what you have to write about.
“But from his point of view, you only have to get one defeat when it matters most somewhere in the playoff series and you won’t feel like the benchmark of anything. So I don’t think he is getting carried away with all that stuff.”
Bennett and Bellamy make pretty fair points considering both men have spent much of their career using the same tactics.
But there are plenty of battles still to be won by Hasler’s Bulldogs if they are to find immortality in September. That’s why these players know they haven’t done anything of substance just yet.
A month to the Finals and another month of cut-throat rugby league to ANZ Stadium.
The proof that these Bulldogs are truly switched on came from an unsuspecting place on Monday night. Amongst the 14,000 freezing fans at Campbelltown Stadium watching the Wests Tigers and Parramatta Eels were two of Canterbury’s biggest weapons.
Sitting in the backrow of a small section at the north-western end of the ground were Sam Kasiano and Frank Pritchard.
How many other players would brave the bitter cold to watch their rivals do battle?
The Bulldogs siege continues.