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Graham: The players let Des Hasler down

Sporting News logo Sporting News 19/09/2017

© Provided by Sportal com au Former┬áCanterbury skipper James Graham refuses to let recently sacked Bulldogs coach Des Hasler wear all the blame for the club's fall from grace, declaring that the playing group needs to take responsibility as well.

Hasler was informed by Canterbury chairman Ray Dib on Tuesday that the club was looking in a new direction and needed to seperate in order to turn their premiership hopes around.

Despite signing a two-year extension in April, the Bulldogs board felt it was in the club's best interest to take a new road - a move that will reportedly cost them a $600,000 payout.

Graham won't leave his former coach hang out to dry, admitting himself and the playing group weren't up to standard and played a part in an appalling year of results.

''As a captain, as part of the playing group, we've got to bear some of that. I do feel that we've probably let Des down a little bit,'' Graham told Fox Sports' NRL 360.

Graham thought the storm had calmed those many months ago when Hasler put pen to paper on a new deal, but the wind kept blowing as the losses began to tally up.

''It's shocking that it feels real now,'' he said.

''I guess the speculation around Des Hasler's future has been very public for a few years. I thought it was put to bed in April when the two year extension was signed, but it seemed to perpetuate.''

Hasler's shaping of the Bulldogs' culture came into question in his last year at the club as they fell as low as 14th on the NRL ladder, with a lucky win against the Knights providing a brief moment of happiness in a bleak period for Canterbury.

Asked what the term 'Bulldogs culture' meant to Graham, the Englishman said it was results based: ''It's winning football games, it's winning premierships.''

The Dragons-bound prop wants fans to remember the success Hasler brought to the club before his head was on the chopping block and paid tribute to his devoted mentor.

''You didn't hear of these problems in 2012 when he first came in, it was 'it's a breath of fresh air, we've made the right decision'. Let's not forget what the club went through to get Des there,'' he said.

''...I regard Des highly and I will personally be forever indebted to him for his dedication to better me both a man and as a footballer.

''As I said I've only just recently found out, I haven't spoken to any teammates about this and I don't want to speak on their behalf but for me personally I think he took me to my footballing limits and he took a lot of those boys to their footballing limits just with everything across the board.

''It's difficult for me to articulate how I'm sort of feeling at the moment. Obviously I'm not apart of the club for next year so that adds a little bit more to it. But I just wanted to go on record to paying that tribute to Des.''

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