The Bulldogs run of 10 consecutive wins has them sitting on top of the table with 34 competition points, and looks likely to continue. If it does, Des Hasler could find himself the owner of consecutive premiership wins, with two different clubs.
The Canterbury Bulldogs have a famous history of success, but when Hasler inherited the side, there was still work needed to build them into a genuine title contender again. This year looked like it would be a tough one for the incoming coach when injuries in the backline depleted their player roster to the point of having to negotiate mid-season deals with the Warriors and Roosters for Krisnan Inu and Sam Perrit respectively.
But in the last two and a half months, they’ve stamped their mark on the competition as championship material. No body would be surprised to seem them take the field come grand final time.
There has been an element of luck, with the club not having to field too many Origin stars, and coming up against the likes of Manly while they were still dealing with the knock on effect of the mid-season rep series. But fortunes aside, the Dogs have looked every bit like premiership leaders should. A powerful set of forward, with great work ethic and defensive attitudes, combined with some stunning players in their backline. One thing that really stands out though is the focus this Dogs side plays with. Even youngsters like Barba carry themselves well on and off the paddock. If the team can maintain their professionalism like they have lately, this side could hold down a spot at the top of the ladder well beyond 2012.
Hasler has proven his worth as a coach. Two premierships is proof enough of his abilities. But if he can take this side all the way to a title in his first season in charge, he’ll have a spot along side the greats, and be arguably the best there is in the game today. Hasler has a four year contract, and is obviously thinking serious long term, having bought prize recruitment specialist Noel Cleal to the Bulldogs from Manly when he left. It’s not hard to tell that his intention is to build not only a great side, but also a strong club with plenty of depth and talent to call on. It seems like the people incharge are right behind him as well. That all points to what could be a golden run for the Canterbury club. If Hasler’s set his mind to it, it may last a very long time.
The Bulldogs have a great fan base who’ll be grateful to see their team back playing great footy. But players like Barba and Morris will get the rest of us footy fans watching as well. Their last title was way back in the Sonny-Bill, Asatasi, Willie Mason era in 2004. Their eight season drought might be about to break.