Des Hasler, Raelene Castle roles under review at Bulldogs

Former New Zealand Netball chief executive Raelene Castle. Photo / Dean Purcell
Former New Zealand Netball chief executive Raelene Castle. Photo / Dean Purcell

The performance of Canterbury Bulldogs chief executive, New Zealander Raelene Castle, and controversial coach Des Hasler is set to come under the spotlight in what could be a volatile emergency meeting on Friday.

The Sydney Morning Herald is reporting that Castle and Hasler's roles at the club are under review following growing dissatisfaction at the famed Bulldogs club.

The news outlet said that "and several other issues will be addressed on Friday".

Castle was headhunted to the Bulldogs three seasons ago from Netball New Zealand with the rugby league franchise and operating body the NRL making play of her being one of the few female bosses of a leading club in Australia.

Castle and Hasler are understood to be close and she has been a vocal supporter of the coach.

But the Sydney Morning Herald reported today that Canterbury legend and director Steve Mortimer fears the Bulldogs are "losing our DNA" under Hasler.

The news outlet said several Bulldogs directors are concerned about the direction of the "Family Club" under Hasler, with the issue to be thrashed out an emergency meeting on Friday. Hasler is contracted until the end of next year, while negotiations for a two-year extension - which have been ongoing for more than six months - but the Sydney Morning Herald said they appear to have stalled.

Mortimer is a former Bulldogs CEO and one of the club's favourite sons. He is also a director of both the leagues and football clubs. The former Australian test halfback told the Sydney Morning Herald he respected Hasler as a coach but questioned whether the former Manly mentor was the right fit for the Dogs.

"I've had a couple of footballers say to me as a director 'Turvey, we're losing our DNA, the Bulldogs,'" the paper reported Mortimer as saying. "I sat down with them and I'm saying, 'I think we might be'.

"I'm old enough to have played two years with the Berries and I've got an idea of how the former coaches have strengthened the DNA of the Bulldogs in winning, getting up in the finals and even winning a premiership.

"The players who have come up to me saying we are losing our DNA and I've had a look at it and I understand what they're talking about. That's why the directors [want to] review this and look for the betterment of the Bulldogs to make them the greatest club and team.
"It's about winning premierships. It's about being up there. It's about developing your own - even though I came from Wagga - good players. That certainly hasn't happened over the last five years."

Under Hasler, Canterbury have made the top eight play-offs for the past five years, reaching two grand finals which were both lost. But club insiders are said to be upset that the Bulldogs are neglecting their junior talent.

"He has been there for five years and taken us to two grand finals, which is terrific. But there's a number of things in that," Mortimer said.

"We're worried about our junior rugby league. We really want to develop our junior rugby league so we can produce our own great players. There's certainly nothing like that happening in the last five years.

"When I came on board I didn't understand that he would bring eight or 10 people (support staff) with him or whatever it may be," Mortimer said.

"To me, I'm old school and I don't think that's appropriate."

Another legendary Bulldog, Terry Lamb, had previously stated he believed Hasler didn't understand the club's culture. Asked about that observation, Mortimer said: "As a director and former player, with Terry Lamb, I do now know where he is coming from."

- NZ Herald

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