Canterbury's underperforming players have been brutally called out after damning vision emerged of a lack of effort in Sunday's 42-24 defeat to Manly. The big loss leaves the Bulldogs languishing in 15th spot on the NRL ladder after a disastrous debut season for coach Cameron Ciraldo.
The rookie coach was fuming with his side after the loss to Manly over what he described as an unacceptable level of standards from his players. Ciraldo's swipe came as damning footage emerged of several Canterbury players failing to chase an attacking bomb from Matt Burton or putting any kick pressure on Manly's players, allowing the Sea Eagles to take an easy catch and launch a counter attack.
The worrying scenes were raised by Ciraldo in his post-match press conference, where the coach pulled no punches in his assessment of Canterbury's players. “Every NRL game you play is a privilege to play. If I get any smell of it that someone isn’t up for the game, I’ll find someone who is,” Ciraldo said before addressing the play in question.
Speaking about the alarming vision on NRL 360 on Monday night, host and Canterbury premiership winner Braith Anasta accused Bulldogs players of "cutting corners". In a scathing swipe at several big-name stars at his former club, Anasta echoed the thoughts of Ciraldo by suggesting there was a massive attitude problem at the club and the standards being set were simply not good enough.
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“Cameron Ciraldo is not happy with his players and he referred to this very incident. Matt Burton putting a kick up and there’s five players including Burton not chasing the kick whatsoever,” Anasta said.
“He puts it up and you have (Reed) Mahoney, (Tevita) Pangai Junior, (Corey) Waddell, they are all there but even the chase after it. This is the problem, watch this. He (Manly player) makes a break and then he gets around and Pangai is hardly moving, (Hayze) Perham gets there but should have been there sooner.
“The whole standards with the Bulldogs and what Ciraldo is trying to bring to this club, there’s players there just not doing the jersey any justice and players cutting corners and players that shouldn’t be there.”
The criticism comes amid reports of player unrest at the Bulldogs and opposition to Ciraldo's methods. It's understood a number of the playing roster are unhappy about the expectation that players should be around the training paddock from 8am until 5:30pm.
Canterbury have 'bought the wrong players'
Anasta suggested the Bulldogs have recruited the "wrong players" and says it's "embarrassing" to watch vision that illustrates the lack of effort from some of the team's stars. He argued that a relentless work ethic - something Ciraldo is trying to implement - is a hallmark of successful Canterbury sides of the past.
“There’s players there complaining how hard they train. Let me tell you, if you want to be a Bulldog, that’s the last thing you do when you enter that building because that’s what they are renowned for,” Anasta added.
“They have bought the wrong players and they’ve got to do something about it. You watch that (footage against Manly) and it’s embarrassing.”
Worrying signs at the struggling Bulldogs
Veteran league reporter Phil Rothfield said the failing standards at the Bulldogs were even harder to fathom because of the calibre of star players within the squad. “They’ve got (Viliame) Kikau, they’ve got Burton, they’ve got Mahoney, they’ve got Luke Thompson, a Great Britain international. They’ve conceded 32 points a game this season, that’s two tries more than the Dean Pay days,” he said.
“Cameron Ciraldo is saying they’ve got blokes who don’t want to be there. Why is there an environment at that club where Pangai wants to turn his back on all that money?”
Rothfield - who has admittedly been a long-time critic of Bulldogs supremo Phil Gould - insisted the club's general manager of football should wear some of the blame for the club's predicament. “He’s not turning up to games. He’s the GM of Football and is on $800,000 or $900,000 a year and is working for Channel 9 and not going to the games,” Rothfield said.
“I think Cameron Ciraldo is a first-year coach who needs every bit of help he can get. Every other general manager goes to a game."
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