TV commentator Matty Johns hasn't missed in his assessment of the Canterbury Bulldogs' start to the 2017 NRL season.

Canterbury sits 13th on the NRL ladder after four rounds this season, winning just one game so far.

But it has been the manner in which the Dogs have lost that is most concerning to fans - a 36-0 thumping at the hands of Manly on Saturday showing just how far the club has fallen.

Canterbury has not missed the finals since Des Hasler joined the club in 2012, but Johns cannot see that trend continuing in 2017, saying the Bulldogs have real problems they must address immediately.


"After five minutes of watching the Bulldogs with the football [against Manly) I came to the conclusion, 'They're not going to score a point'," Johns said on Triple M's The Grill Team.

"Just the skill level, the most basic fundamentals, the catch and pass is so clunky. Watching them play, after five minutes, I had no doubt Manly were going to win, because there wasn't enough skill, imagination or creativity in the Bulldogs side."

Des Hasler continues to feel the heat, given the Bulldogs' performances. Despite taking the club to two Grand Finals in five seasons at the helm, some are ready to call time on his tenure at Belmore.

But Johns says sacking Des Hasler will not fix the Bulldogs' issues, because the players just aren't performing up to NRL standard.

Johns feels Canterbury does not have the star power in key areas to match it with the best in the competition at the moment.

"My problem with the Bullodgs is this - at the start of the season, I couldn't have them in my finals," Johns said. "They can't get there and it has nothing to do with Des.

"The fact is they haven't got enough creativity and they haven't got enough skill in the team.

"If you sack Des Hasler and you put another coach in will the Bulldogs improve? My thoughts are no, they won't, because they haven't got the cattle in the creative positions.

"The problem's got to do with the players they've got in key positions and until that is addressed, they can sack as many coaches as they want."

Reports emerged on the weekend the Bulldogs are chasing off-contract Wests Tigers stars James Tedesco, Aaron Woods, Mitchell Moses and Luke Brooks.

Capturing the so-called "Big Four" would be the biggest coup since the Parramatta Eels lured Jim Dymock, Jason Smith, Dean Pay and Jarrod McCracken away from the Bulldogs in 1995.

But Johns says the Bulldogs have no choice, but to try something drastic in their recruitment and fill the void that remains in their creative positions.

"There's talk around that they're chasing the Tigers' 'Big Four', then maybe something will start to happen," Johns said. "From what I'm hearing, they're offering Mitchell Moses huge money and the same for Tedesco.

"Des did what he could to try and get Kieran Foran. Kieran decided to go back to New Zealand, but at the moment they can't attract anyone."


Johns' outlook for the Bulldogs may be bleak, but he sees a much brighter future for Sydney Roosters halfback Mitchell Pearce.

Pearce had a disastrous 2016 season, where he was embroiled in off-field controversy and stepped away from the game to deal with personal issues.

But the 27-year-old has started 2017 on fire, so much so that Johns has tipped the playmaker to win back his State of Origin jersey.

The most surprising element, though, was who Johns wants as Pearce's halves partner - Roosters team-mate Luke Keary.

"Combinations are so important at that level and if I'm picking the team tomorrow, I'm going Pearce-Keary," Johns said. "One of the reasons is because you've got Boyd Cordner on the left and, for mine, that is the best combination in rugby league at the moment."

Johns' Triple M colleague and former State of Origin enforcer Mark Geyer agreed with the call to put Pearce back in the Origin arena.

The Roosters halfback has never won a series for NSW in eight attempts, but Geyer says his form is simply too good to overlook.

"I think Pearce will be halfback," Geyer said. "He's played himself into the number seven jersey.

"The composure that he's shown since coming back last year is the reason the Roosters are where they are.

"His contribution to the Roosters has been under-rated and he's making Keary's job a lot easier."