Canterbury stalwart Aiden Tolman has labelled criticism of Dean Pay's coaching ability as "unfair" and credits the Bulldogs coach for bringing an old-school mentality back to the club.
The Bulldogs pose the worst figures for attack and defence after 14 games of the Telstra Premiership which has seen pressure begin to mount on Pay, who extended his deal by a further 12 months in a show of faith by the club in March.
Speculation around Pay's future began to surface again following the side's fourth consecutive loss a fortnight ago to the Roosters.
"I think it is unfair, Dean is our coach moving forward and they've re-signed him for another year after this one," Tolman said on Wednesday.
"I think he's brought that Bulldog attitude back. He's an old player, with the change of the board that's come on board.
"I loved Des as a coach and I'm not there to bag anyone out but Dean has brought in what he wants to do and what he thinks the Bulldogs is.
"There's been a lot of pain over the last two years and Dean is trying to fix it in the way he thinks is going to work.
"That's who the players want and who we see as coach but you can understand this year our performances haven't been up to scratch so you have to take it too."
Tolman is the most experienced player in the Bulldogs line-up and will notch up his 250th NRL appearance against the Sharks on Sunday.
He's been around long enough to ride the wave of coaching changes and innuendo at Belmore.
"I suppose that's happened here for the last four or five years," Tolman said.
"It's not new to a lot of the guys here but when you're losing games the pressure does build. That's professional sport and you've got to understand that's what happens.
"Only the people within these walls can change that starting with us as players, the coaching staff and support staff.
"We're the only ones that can turn it around. You can let the pressure build and it can take hold of you and that will be the end of you."
Bulldogs skipper Josh Jackson ran a similar notion to the media on Wednesday, putting an end to any suggestions the players were struggling to adapt to Pay's coaching ways.
"I'm sure to Deano [the speculation is unhelpful] but as far as I'm concerned and the players are concerned to start with we're all behind Deano," Jackson said.
"He's a fantastic coach and great for this place. He's really good for the players, gives us confidence and prepares us really well.
"Three months ago he signed on for another year so as far as I'm concerned and the club is concerned Dean will be here for the next 12 months."