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Bulldogs coach Dean Pay.

Dean Pay makes no secret the club is desperate to recruit at least four quality players for 2021 but the uncertainty surrounding his future renders the situation a hard sell.

Pay's future at Belmore could be decided as early as next week but the club legend was again left in the dark on Friday morning when forced to answer questions on his own tenure ahead of the clash with the Broncos.

Canterbury's salary cap woes since Pay took over in 2018 have been well documented with the club forced to pay out back-ended deals to former players Moses Mbye, David Klemmer, Aaron Woods and the Morris brothers.

It's a recruitment and retention saga that has offered a small glimmer of hope over the past six months but will only improve once Pay's future is decided upon.

Pay will either get the green light to push on and help attract key players to the club or join a host of current squad members on the verge of needing to look elsewhere.

Pay excited for Thompson's debut

"We've worked really hard over the last two or three years to get ourselves in a position where we can start to move forward now. And of course, I want to keep coaching here," Pay said on Friday.

"But my job is to make sure whatever player we do bring in here a better player and that way, we will make ourselves a better team and a better club."

Broncos v Bulldogs - Round 9

The Bulldogs did well over the summer to lock in and extend senior players Will Hopoate, Josh Jackson and Dallin Watene-Zelezniak to new deals, while the retention of Jake Averillo, Lachlan Lewis and Reimis Smith signals their intent in keeping young talent. 

The arrival of Englishman Luke Thompson has been the only shining light on the recruitment front and offers Bulldogs fans the official beginning of a rebuild that only the Knights faithful could only relate to in recent years.

"We've landed Luke Thompson already so hopefully we can keep progressing," Pay said.

"We want to make sure our recruitment is strong and we can bring people in that are going to improve our team. Hopefully, we can keep progressing with that."

Canterbury have at least 11 players on their books who face uncertain futures including Adam Elliott and Kieran Foran.

Bulldogs recruit Luke Thompson.
Bulldogs recruit Luke Thompson. ©NRL Photos

Elliott remains in talks to extend his time at Belmore but has received interest from rival clubs.

Pay remained hopeful Elliott would remain at the club and that they'd done all they could to lure Raiders winger Nick Cotric, who is expected to announce his future at the Raiders soon.

The club also has two spots available following the departures of Corey Harawira-Naera and Jayden Okunbor, who were de-registered by the NRL for off-field incidents in February.

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