Departing Bulldogs skipper 'shocked' by Hasler axing
OUTGOING Canterbury skipper James Graham believes Des Hasler should've been given the chance to impress with the team's new faces in 2018.
Hasler was officially sacked by the Bulldogs on Tuesday, with chairman Ray Dib issuing a statement saying the two parties would part ways immediately.
The club claimed Hasler had re-signed with the club on a two-year deal back in April, but on Tuesday said it was a non-binding "heads of agreement".
A "shocked" Graham found out the news when he was preparing for NRL 360.
"The speculation around Des Hasler's future has been very public for almost two years," Graham told the show.
"I thought it was put to bed in April when the two-year extension was signed, but it seemed to perpetuate and we've found ourselves here now."
When asked if it was the right decision, Graham said: "That's not for me to say.
"I regard Des so highly and will be personally indebted to him for bettering me as both a man and a footballer.
"He took me to my footballing limits and took a lot of those boys to their footballing limits."
In signing Kieran Foran and Aaron Woods from 2018, the club found themselves in salary cap strife which has resulted in Graham signing with St George Illawarra.
Another big name may still leave for the club to be cap compliant.
Despite the movement, Graham said Hasler deserved a shot with Foran and Woods in the team.
"He should have been given the chance to have that roster overhaul, and I believe that happened," Graham said.
"Some fresh faces brought in, a chance to bring new ideas in terms of the playing roster.
"I thought with this two-year extension, or heads of agreement as it's been portrayed now, he should've been given the reins still."
Graham said Hasler didn't deserve to cop all the blame for a poor season where the club missed the finals for the first time since 2011.
"As the captain, as part of the playing group, we've got to bear some of the burden of that. I do feel like we've let Des down," Graham said.
"The word 'culture' gets thrown around too much in this time. As well, coaches probably get too much credit by the media when things are going well and too much criticism when they're not."