Braith Anasta believes the Bulldogs have ‘lost their DNA’ amid reports Trent Barrett ‘was a dead man walking’ before stepping down, while Paul Gallen insisted the coaching change will not solve Canterbury’s issues.
Barrett’s disastrous spell in charge of the Bulldogs came to an end on Monday, when he announced his resignation with the team bottom of the NRL ladder with just two wins in 10 games.
The loss against Newcastle on Magic Round on Friday was the Bulldogs’ 29th in 34 games since Barrett took charge at Belmore, but Canterbury supremo Phil Gould insisted he was not going to fire Barrett.
Trent Barrett resigned from his role as Bulldogs coach on Monday after a 16-6 loss to Newcastle in Magic Round on Friday night
‘It was Trent’s decision. I certainly wasn’t going to sack him. It’s sad it’s come to this,’ he told reporters.
‘I think the performances and pressure, he got the feeling he didn’t have the solutions for what was going wrong.’
Anasta said Barrett’s departure spoke volumes for a club desperately lacking direction.
‘For decades you knew what you were going to get out of the Bulldogs and when you play at the Bulldogs you know what the expectations are,’ he said on Fox League’s NRL 360 on Monday night.
Barrett won just five of his 34 games in charge of the Bulldogs since he was hired
Bulldogs supremo Phil Gould insisted on Monday he was not going to fire Barrett
‘You don’t let the Bulldogs logo down and the expectations are extremely high and that just seems to not be there anymore.
‘What are the Bulldogs right now? What style do they play? What is their DNA? Because at the moment you don’t know what you’re going to get.’
Speaking on the same show, Paul Kent said Barrett’s future was decided when the Bulldogs pulled off a stunning upset as they beat the Roosters 16-12 in Round 8.
The win came after Gould had delivered a much-publicised spray to the players and took charge of a training session, which Barrett insisted had given his blessing to.
Braith Anasta told Fox League’s NRL 360 the Bulldogs ‘had lost their DNA’
While Paul Gallen slammed Canterbury for recruiting poorly in the past few years
‘Trent Barrett had no choice [but to resign]. I said weeks ago once Phil Gould got involved he was a dead man walking,’ Kent said.
‘After he got involved and they went out and beat the Roosters, which basically, rather than help Barrett it reinforced the opinion of Trent Barrett, that he wasn’t able to do it.’
Wooden-spooners in 2021, the Bulldogs spent big in the offseason to bounce back this year.
Matt Burton, Josh Addo-Carr, Tevita Pangai Junior, Matt Dufty, Brent Naden and Paul Vaughan all arrived at Belmore this season, with Eels star hooker Reed Mahoney and Panthers premiership-winning star Viliame Kikau set to join them.
Adding a host of big-name players like Josh Addo-Carr (pictured in the loss to Newcastle), Matt Burton and Tevita Pangai Junior has done nothing to improve the Bulldogs
Penrith’s Viliame Kikau (left) and Eels hooker Reed Mahoney will join the team in the offseason
Anasta, who captained the Bulldogs to their Grand Final triumph in 2005, suggested recruiting big-name players was not necessarily a winning strategy.
‘The big thing with the Bulldogs is the personality of the player they buy, you’ve got to buy a Bulldog,’ he continued.
‘That’s what they haven’t done I don’t think with their recruitment.’
Former NRL great Paul Gallen also criticised the Bulldogs’ recruitment, suggesting in his Nine column that their roster was ‘a few years away from being genuinely competitive’.
He also Barrett’s departure from Canterbury was ‘premature’ and that his resignation was unlikely to have a major impact in the short-term.
The Bulldogs are bottom of the NRL ladder with just two wins in 10 rounds so far
Barrett’s decision to walk away came just two weeks after Gould insisted the club had no plans to appoint a new coach.
Barrett ‘will be the coach of the Bulldogs long after I’m gone’, he told Nine’s 100% Footy earlier this month.
Anasta conceded Gould’s status in the game and his influence on the Bulldogs, could make life difficult for Barrett’s successor.
‘If you’re a coach going in there it’d be hard to have much trust walking into the joint with the mixed messages that Baz [Barrett] would have received over the last few months,’ he said.
Gould said earlier this month Barrett would be the Bulldogs coach ‘long after I’m gone’
Incidentally, Gould himself had warned Barrett to steer clear of the Bulldogs job back in September 2020 just months after the former Australia five-eight had signed a three-year deal with Canterbury.
‘I think I’d be advising him to reconsider his decision, because I just think this [the Bulldogs] is going to deteriorate into a real mess in the coming weeks and I can’t see any way out,’ he told Nine at the time.
‘The Bulldogs is an absolute mess behind the scenes. It’s a toxic mess.’
Shane Flanagan, a premiership-winning coach with Cronulla in 2016, leads the list of candidates to replace Barrett, with Penrith assistant coach Cameron Ciraldo and former Queensland coach Paul Green also thought to be in the running.