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Hasler vows to stay at Bulldogs until 2019

NZN 2/03/2017 Darren Walton

Canterbury coach Des Hasler has channelled his inner Donald Trump to rubbish suggestions he's on the outer with the NRL club.

Hasler insists he's staying put at Belmore for at least another three seasons, despite being off contract at the end of 2017 and under pressure after the Bulldogs' meek exit from last year's finals series.

Hasler has used his season-opening news conference to go on the front foot.

"Fake news. Yeah, that'd be right," he mockingly said after answering what he dubbed "the burning question" on Thursday before it was even asked.

"Termination of my tenure here has never, ever been discussed ... the ongoing contractual discussions for '18 and '19 are really positive, very confidential.

"So we're currently engrossed in that."

Hasler met the Bulldogs' board last October, when his position was assured at least until the end of 2017.

The former premiership-winning Manly mentor was extremely confident of having his contract extended in what the 56-year-old admitted was a big turnaround.

Club legend Steve Mortimer resigned as a director after the board's decision to keep Hasler, saying the Bulldogs had lost their DNA under his coaching.

Hasler, though, is adamant there's no animosity or grudges between the pair, revealing they'd enjoyed coffee together over the summer.

"Steve Mortimer is an absolute legend of this club and he's contributed a lot to football," he said.

"And whilst his resignation highlighted his attitude towards that high standard of corporate governance (at the Bulldogs), he's still very much a part of club, in particular with a program we've got going with the alumni."

In a bizarre analogy, the under-fire coach likened Canterbury's early exit from the 2016 finals to the first-week departures from the Australian Open of top two seeds Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic.

"Sometimes, that's just the nature of the sport," Hasler said.

But he knows Canterbury's attack must improve, starting on Friday night in the Dogs' season opener against last year's losing grand finalists Melbourne.

"We make no excuses about it. Our execution was pretty sloppy towards the back end," Hasler said, while being coy about the likelihood of halfback Moses Mbye being fit for the first-round blockbuster at Belmore.

"He's really well. His fractured elbow healed overnight so he's fine."

Mbye was named in a full-strength line-up on Thursday afternoon, but Hasler refused to divulge whether he'd given the lively No.7 and five-eighth Josh Reynolds a licence to thrill in 2017 after the Dogs' pack led the creativity last year.

"I can't tell you that," said Hasler, offering up only that his side enjoyed a positive pre-season.

"It's been really good. We start the season in relatively good shape. We haven't had too many go under the knife during the off-season.

"Brett Morris and Will Hopoate both starting (against the Storm) is very good."

THE STATS THAT MATTER: * The Storm haven't beaten the Bulldogs since 2013, winning six straight after losing their previous two clashes - including the 2012 grand final

* Despite their recent dominance of Melbourne, Canterbury are looking to avoid suffering four consecutive defeats at Belmore for the first time since 1965-66

* Without a title since 2004, the Bulldogs are also enduring their longest premiership drought since ending a 38-year wait in 1980

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