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Graham relieved at Hasler's reprieve

AAP logoAAP 24/10/2016 Ian McCullough

Canterbury skipper James Graham admits he was stunned when he heard Des Hasler was almost forced out of the club and says the Bulldogs couldn't have a better coach to lead them.

Graham, who's in the UK preparing for England's Four Nations opener against New Zealand this weekend, was about to board a plane back to the UK when Hasler was fighting for his job.

"I am absolutely, one hundred per cent behind Des Hasler," Graham said.

"I was completely taken aback when it was all happening, I was just leaving Sydney to come back home and I was totally shocked.

"Myself and the playing group want Des in charge. I don't know what all the facts are, but all of the players want him there."

Hasler's five-year reign at the club looked like coming to an end after club great and board member Steve Mortimer claimed the Bulldogs had lost their DNA under the former Manly mentor.

An emergency board meeting was held and after the offer of a two-year contract extension was shelved.

This was despite the team qualifying for two premiership deciders under Hasler and reaching the finals every season since his arrival in late 2011.

However, a poor finish to the 2016 campaign, culminating in a meek finals exit to Penrith led to some disgruntlement amongst certain club powerbrokers with Mortimer, who has since resigned from the board, the most vocal.

"Steve is very passionate and he wants to see us do better," Graham said.

"He loves the Bulldogs, we all do, and we all want us to do better. He said some things ... but he cares.

"You want people at the club who care and Des cares just as much as anyone else.

"He is so determined to get things right with this group of players. You have to see it to believe how hard he works, it's incredible."

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