You have skipped the navigation, tab for page content

Canterbury officials agreed to extend Dean Pay's contract at the height of last year's coaching merry-go-round in a move which makes it unlikely there will ever again be such upheaval among the ranks of NRL mentors.

While Penrith, Wests Tigers, Brisbane, South Sydney, Manly and Cronulla were all looking for new coaches during the off-season, the Bulldogs decided to back Pay as the man to lead the club through a rebuilding phase with the youngest and least experienced roster in the NRL.

Only the fall-out from the Mad Monday celebrations, which resulted in four Canterbury players either being charged by NSW Police or fined by the club, and negative headlines from other off-field incidents delayed the finalisation of the new deal with Pay.

Despite back-to-back losses in the opening two rounds, the Bulldogs announced last Friday that Pay would remain in charge until at least the end of the 2020 season – leaving St George Illawarra's Paul McGregor and Parramatta's Brad Arthur as the only NRL coaches uncontracted beyond this year.

Match Highlights: Wests Tigers v Bulldogs

With clubs forced to limit football department spending to $5.93 million from next year or pay a luxury tax of 37.5 per cent on any amount above that, there is unlikely to be another coaching shake-up on the scale of the one witnessed last year.

Under the football department salary cap, the wages or any financial settlement paid to a sacked coach will be included – along with the cost of hiring a replacement.

Bulldogs officials believed his [Pay's] term should begin from this season as he had no control over the roster he inherited

In the AFL, only two coaches – Carlton's Mick Malthouse (2015) and Brisbane's Jason Leppitsch (2016) - have been sacked while under contract since the introduction of a football department salary cap four years ago.

The penalty for overspending in the AFL began in 2015 as a 37 per cent luxury tax before rising to 70 per cent and now 100 per cent.

It is anticipated breaches of the NRL football department cap will also eventually result in clubs paying a tax of 100 per cent.

The catalyst for the coaching merry-go-round was Penrith's shock sacking of Anthony Griffin just four weeks before last season's finals.

As revealed by on Sunday, Panthers general manager Phil Gould had approached Brisbane's seven-times premiership winning coach Wayne Bennett, while chairman Dave O'Neill was courting Wests Tigers mentor Ivan Cleary.

Bennett wanted to serve out the remaining year of his contract with the Broncos but once the Tigers accepted that Cleary wanted to return to Penrith to coach his son, Nathan, the race by clubs to secure top line coaches heated up.

Every try from Round 3

With the Tigers also keen on Bennett, who had been advised that his tenure in Brisbane would not extend beyond 2019, the Broncos accelerated their interest in Anthony Seibold, despite the Dally M coach of the year being contracted to Souths for this season.

Brisbane were also linked to Michael Maguire, who became the Tigers' preferred option after Bennett confirmed his intention to stay at the Broncos and the fear of being left without a coach saw the game of musical chairs spin out of control.

The Sea Eagles secured the return of Des Hasler and put Trent Barrett on gardening leave after he provided the required 12-month notice of resignation. The Sharks were forced to find a replacement for Shane Flanagan after his NRL registration was cancelled for breaching the terms of a 2014 suspension.

Amid the chaos, Canterbury officials offered some stability by agreeing that Pay should not be held accountable for the team finishing in 12th place last season.

Magic Round: Entertainment announced

After signing Pay to a two-year contract in 2018, Bulldogs officials believed his term should begin from this season as he had no control over the roster and salary cap mess he inherited.

After losing Moses Mbye, Aaron Woods and David Klemmer from the squad he started out with, Pay has been severely limited in his ability to recruit players this season and there will be little will change to the club's position next year.

With Michael Lichaa and Rhyse Martin being the only members of the side which beat Wests Tigers 22-8 on Sunday coming off contract, it is understood the Bulldogs have enough salary cap space next season to sign a player of similar standing to Dylan Napa, who was their biggest recruit this year.

As a result, Canterbury officials are prepared to be patient and believe Pay should not be judged until the likes of Lachlan Lewis, Reimis Smith, Nick Meaney and Jayden Okunbor have 50 NRL games under their belts.

After losing their opening two matches to the Warriors and Eels, the Bulldogs decided to announce Pay's re-signing to head off any pressure to deviate from their plan if the team continued to struggle for success in coming weeks.

With six clubs appointing new coaches during the off-season, Trent Robinson (Roosters), Craig Bellamy (Storm) and Paul Green (Cowboys) committing to long term deals and the Warriors recently re-signing Stephen Kearney, there is likely to be little movement in the coaching ranks before the football department cap takes effect.     

Acknowledgement of Country

National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

Premier Partner

Media Partners

Major Partners

View All Partners