Klemmer: Canterbury culture needed to change
Des Hasler is the only first grade coach that David Klemmer has ever known but the giant Bulldogs prop admits a change needed to be made in order to restore the famed Canterbury culture that made the club regular premiership contenders.
After five seasons at the helm Hasler was sensationally dumped at the conclusion of the 2017 season and replaced shortly thereafter by Dean Pay, one of the toughest front-rowers of the past 30 years and a man who played 108 of his 184 career first grade games for the blue and white.
Pay's coaching career took its formative steps way back in 2002 as forwards coach with Ricky Stuart's Roosters team and 15 years later Pay will again leave Stuart's side as Raiders assistant coach to take his first head coaching role.
Klemmer is one of four current Bulldogs players to have played under Pay for the New South Wales under-20s Origin team, a team Pay guided to five straight wins from the concept's inception in 2012 through until 2016.
Although he has yet to speak to Pay in person with regards to his vision for the Canterbury team of 2018 and beyond, Klemmer conceded that the Bulldogs culture had dissipated under Hasler and that Pay was the right man to bring it back.
"I think it went away a bit," Klemmer told NRL.com. "We've been re-energised now and it's a fresh start.
"I've known Dean since when I was 18 and 19 and had him in the 20s Origin and he's going to be good for our club.
"That's what's going to be interesting, interesting to see how he goes as a full-time coach.
"I've got a lot of respect for him, he's a good bloke, he knows the club, he knows the culture, he knows his footy as well.
"He knows what he's doing so I can't wait to get there and play underneath him."
Installing Pay as head coach is just part of the overhaul undertaken by the Bulldogs board in order to reconnect with the club's storied past.
Premiership-winning captain Steve Mortimer is back on the board and Andrew Farrar will take over from Alan Thompson as General Manager of Football, reconnecting the current playing group with the club's rich DNA.
"Like a kid starting high school, it's going to be different faces there and it will be interesting," said Klemmer after the Bulldogs missed the finals for the first time since 2011.
"We've got Andrew Farrar coming as football manager as well so it's going to be pretty awesome and a good vibe around the club.
"We've just got to get some confidence back in the playing group and start winning some footy games next year."