Canterbury Bulldogs to announce Dean Pay as new NRL coach

Canberra Raiders assistant coach Dean Pay
Canberra Raiders assistant coach Dean Pay

Canterbury has appointed Dean Pay to replace Des Hasler as coach of the Bulldogs.

Officials at the 'family club' have agreed to terms with Pay, who will be officially unveiled as the new man in charge on Friday.

Pay was an assistant to Ricky Stuart at Canberra, but the Raiders have given him their blessing to leave in order to fulfil his ambition of becoming a head coach. The Bulldogs, who needed to act quickly after Pay was interviewed and shortlisted to replace Tony Smith at Warrington, have got their man. The club is hopeful assistant coach Jim Dymock will stay on in his role after also being interviewed for the top job. An official announcement has been pencilled in for 11am on Friday.

Pay played 85 games with the Bulldogs from 1989 to 1994 and his appointment follows Bulldogs chairman Ray Dib's desire to bring back a former player to helm the club. He will replace Hasler, who is taking legal action against the club after it claimed his two-year contract extension was "non binding".

There has been a feeling Hasler, despite taking the Bulldogs to two grand finals, wasn't the right fit at Belmore after Steve Mortimer questioned whether he understood the 'DNA' of the blue and whites. The former Manly mentor was one of the few clipboard holders to take charge who hadn't previously played at the club. The fact that Pay had rocketed him into favouritism from the outset, particularly after overseeing a successful period for the NSW under-20s side.

"I spent a lot of time there, at the end of the day it's a club that's close to my heart," Pay told Fairfax Media last week.

"Canterbury is a special club.

"The people that have played there in the past really appreciate the club. It was all set up there right from the beginning with Bullfrog (Peter Moore) and Punchy (Barry) Nelson.

"It's a wonderful club and you never forget those times."

Pay has served a long apprenticeship as an assistant coach, including a stint under Craig Bellamy at Melbourne.

It's a period of transition for Canterbury. There is now a new coach, but the club must appoint a captain to replace St George Illawarra-bound James Graham, while Andrew Hill won't start as the new CEO until after the World Cup. There could be more change in the front office when Bulldogs members head to the ballot box to elect a board in February.

The Bulldogs have purchased Aaron Woods and Kieran Foran, although their contracts will remain only provisionally registered until the club is salary cap compliant. The Bulldogs must release at least one more player for them to meet the NRL's requirements.