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As a media circus surrounds the embattled Canterbury Bulldogs, one player couldn't help but take a potshot at the throng of reporters outside the team's base on Monday.
After the Bulldogs crashed to a 2-8 record through the first 10 games of the season last weekend, head coach Trent Barrett opted to resign on Monday after it became clear he was unlikely to continue on in the role.
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An off-season headlined by several big name recruits has thus far amounted to little on field success, with Barrett's overall 5-34 record since taking over the Bulldogs in 2021 making his position at the club increasingly untenable.
According to reports from the Daily Telegrapgh, players who had been scheduled for a regular media apperance on Monday were instead told they had been cancelled, while training was alsp cut short and players sent home before the decision was made public.
Despite a reported instruction from Gould to all players to steer clear of the media, Paul Vaughan couldn't help but take a dig at the pack assembled outside the Bulldogs' facility on Monday morning.
“Do you have to be here? You are the worst kind of people,” Vaughan said as he walked to his car.
A 16-6 loss to Newcastle on Friday night at Suncorp Stadium in the Magic Round opener proved the final straw for Bulldogs officials, who spent the weekend discussing Barrett's future.
Barrett took the decision out of the board's hands, stepping down from the role effective immediately on Monday morning.
— CODE NRL (@codenrl) May 16, 2022
A three paragraph statement from the Bulldogs confirmed the news but gave no indication of the club's future plans.
It is not yet clear who will take over from Barrett in the short term, with both assistant coach David Furner and NSW Cup coach Michael Potter listed as potential candidates.
Longer term options are thought to he headed by premiership-winning duo Paul Green and Shane Flanagan, whose son Kyle is on the Bulldogs' books.
Others drawing speculation as potential candidates include St Helens coach Kristian Woolf and Cameron Ciraldo, who is an assistant at Penrith, as Barrett was before joining the Bulldogs.
More pain predicted for Bulldogs after Barrett's resignation
With only five wins from 34 games in charge, Barrett made the move to resign before he was sacked on Monday morning, leaving behind a Canterbury side that has made little to no on-field progress since his arrival.
This despite the high-profile signings of Matt Burton and Josh Addo-Carr has left the Bulldogs administration at a loss to what their next move will be.
Part of their decision making could be done for them, with Burton expected to negotiate his next contract with rivals as soon as the November 1 deadline to do so passes.
With a player option for the 2024 season, Burton has already stated he plans to hear from rival clubs - and the exit of Barrett, a key influence in signing the five-eighth on a long-term deal reportedly worth as much as $500k per season, appears likely to persuade the star to move on.
Speaking on SEN Radio on Monday prior to the announcement of Barrett's decision, Daily Telegraph NRL reporter Dave Riccio said Burton would almost be a certainty to walk out the door after just one season.
“Let’s think about Matt Burton for a moment, this morning he’s driving to training," he proposed.
“He’s signed at this footy club to play under Trent Barrett, he is the one who dragged him over after working with him at Penrith, now he’s driving to training not knowing who the coach is going to be.
“He’s playing in a footy team that can’t strike a blow and he’s off-contract basically from November 1, he can take himself to open market, he can go to the highest bidder.”
Barrett's resignation could impact the Bulldogs' hopes for years to come, with fellow NRL commentator Andrew Voss predicting Canterbury's 2023 season would be equally miserable if Burton walked.
With a thin list and a recently signed star potentially gone after just one season, the consequences for the current sorry state of affairs could be far reaching.
“If he signs with another club for 2024 in November or December of this year, write off the Bulldogs next year,” Voss said.
“That’d be a low blow for the Bulldogs and their fans.”
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