“Providing our players with access to someone of Brad Haddin’s experience in dealing with pressure and handling lots of different situations can only be a good thing for us as a club.
Brad Haddin’s experience in dealing with pressure and handling lots of different situations can only be a good thing for us as a club.
Canterbury CEO Andrew Hill
“Dean and Brad have had a relationship for many years. Brad is providing a bit of help, a bit of mentorship to some of our leaders in the leadership group.”
Haddin isn’t the first outside sporting star invited to help motivate and mentor the Bulldogs players. The “family club” invited inspirational former wheelchair racer Kurt Fearnley to address the squad ahead of its premiership campaign. The players spoke warmly of their time with the NSW Australian of the year, who spoke openly about the challenges he has overcome during his sporting career.
was invited to watch the team’s video review session and also spent time on the field while the players were put through their paces ahead of Sunday’s clash with St George Illawarra. Rookie winger Jayden Okunbor, who was selected for the NSW under-14 Emerging Blues cricket squad before turning his attention to rugby league, was starstruck when he saw Haddin in Pay’s office.
“I was ‘is that Brad Haddin?’ I got taken aback,” Okunbor said.
“He’s definitely a legend. I grew up watching him when I was playing a bit. It was pretty cool.”
Playmaker Lachlan Lewis said having Haddin around the club would only benefit the team.
“He was at the top level of his sport and Cricket Australia is going through restructure and change now,” Lewis said.
“I know he’s a Canberra guy and Dean knows him from being down in Canberra.
“He had a chat, let us know he’s around, watched our sessions. He’s doing a lot of other stuff with the leadership team.”
Bulldogs forward Ofahiki Ogden added: “It’s good if the boys can speak to him and he can help us out with leadership.”
The blue and whites got off to a rocky start to the season, dropping their first two games. However, they have improved markedly over the past fortnight, beating the Tigers and then pushing the Storm to the limit.
“We’ve been playing the way I always thought we could over the last couple of weeks,” Lewis said.
“We’re backing our defence, attack has never been too much of a drama. Walking off that field [against Melbourne], I enjoyed every minute of it.”
Adrian Proszenko is the Chief Rugby League Reporter for the Sydney Morning Herald.