Hasler set to become a rugby league coaching great
Bulldogs NRL coach Des Hasler. AAP Image/Dean Lewins
Bulldog coach Des Hasler is shortlisted to be among rugby league’s greatest coaches.
The 51-year-old has two premierships with Manly in 2008 and 2011 under his belt and has his sights firmly set on a third next Sunday at ANZ Stadium in what will be a crackerjack of a grand final against the Melbourne Storm, coached by Craig Bellamy.
He did have two, but his 2007 and 2009 victories were scrubbed after proven salary cap rorts, making Bellamy all the more hell-bent to stay on the record books this year.
The tactical clash between these two will be worth the price of admission alone.
Bellamy has had three of the biggest names in rugby league for most of his tenure – Cameron Smith, Bill Slater, and Cooper Cronk – a trio of massive match-winners. And Bellamy did have Greg Inglis for six of his 10 seasons.
Hasler has manufactured his minor premiership lineup in his debut season, after they finished ninth last year.
It’s been a phenomenal performance, with every Bulldog from the skipper Michael Ennis right through the ranks far better footballers than they were before Hasler arrived.
In particular, Hasler has turned Ben Barba into a Dally M medallist, and the most electric footballer in the competition. He’s raised the bar to unheard of heights with Sam Kasiano, Frank Pritchard, James Graham, Aiden Tolman, Greg Eastwood, and Krisnan Inu who was withering on the vine at the Warriors.
Hasler has the genius touch to be linked in time with the three best coaches in NRL history – Wayne Bennett, Jack Gibson, and Tim Sheens.
Bennett’s seven premierships, six with the Broncos and one with the Dragons is the benchmark. Gibson has five, two with the Roosters, and three with Parramatta. Sheens has four – three with Canberra, and one with Wests-Tigers.
Hasler has the talented trio’s major attributes – lateral thinking and superb communication skills that automatically translates to getting the roster on the same page.
The Bulldogs know exactly what Hasler requires, and they proved it again last night. Despite an early 4-nil lead where the Bulldogs held possession for the first 5 five minutes before Souths even touched it, Souths then dominated even though they lost playmaker Adam Reynolds with a torn hamstring at the 27th minute, to lead 8-4 with four minutes to the break.
In those four minutes, Sam Perrett scored and Inu landed two goals, and the Bulldogs led 12-8. The loss of Reynolds and the Bulldog fightback rattled Souths, and the Bulldogs ran away with the game 32-8 in the second half.
Melbourne won’t have those lapses next Sunday, and it will be up to Hasler to lift his troops that extra notch or two for Belmore to house the NRL Shield featuring legends Norm Provan and Arthur Summons for the next 12 months.
If anyone can devise a way to beat the Storm with so much at stake, it’s Des Hasler.