Bulldogs call in their own coach whisperer to help Dean Pay

We have ripped into Pay about his communication skills – something players have also complained about. His coaching ability has also been questioned. But the club has moved to give him help.


‘‘We’ve got a person from Melbourne working with him on his personal development,’’ Anderson said. She would not elaborate, but this column has learnt Pay is getting guidance from Melbourne-based life coach John Di Stefano, who famously worked with Storm boss Craig Bellamy. He also had a stint with NSW.

Di Stefano works on coach’s communication after sitting back and listening to the way they operate.

He fronted Bellamy to work with him. That is also the preferred method of the new ‘‘coach whisperer’’ Bradley Charles Stubbs. But Di Stefano didn’t approach Bellamy in a cafe, or turn up to training like Stubbs does, he wrote him a letter. He calmed Bellamy down. On non-game days, at least.


It is understood that Anderson’s husband, Chris, a Bulldogs great and premiership-winning coach, made contact with Di Stefano.

Lynne Anderson said the Bulldogs are doing everything they can to make Pay work as coach.

‘‘And we do have a plan to rebuild,’’ she said. ‘‘We need to make wise choices. We need to build from the ground up. Chris did it in the ’90s … he has talked about it with me. He said that back then they rebuilt around developing young players, but they targeted a front-rower and a goalkicker.

‘‘He got Marty Bella and Daryl Halligan and we went from there. We have a similar plan. It worked then and it can work again. The club also rebuilt after the salary cap scandal. We can do it.’’

Anderson wasn’t backward in coming forward when it came to Latrell Mitchell. ‘‘There is no story there,’’ she said. ‘‘He is out of our reach.’’

With millions to spend, this column would be very surprised if they made Mitchell the big fish they want to land – because of the position he plays.

The Trbojevic brothers would be a different matter altogether.

Worried at first sight: Viewers fall out of love with Origin

The NRL may have got the result it wanted on the field in Origin II, but the match exposed a problem that could cost the games tens of millions of dollars. The television ratings for both Origin matches this year have been down on last year. About 2.7 million people watched last Sunday’s second clash from Perth — a 12 per cent drop compared with Origin II last year.

But, more worryingly, the game has lost more than 1 million viewers since the high in 2014 when Origin II attracted 4.1 million viewers.

Ratings plunge: Origin is still a great spectacle but it is losing viewers.Credit:AAP

Former NRL chief executive Dave Smith used that peak to open early negotiations for a new television deal, which delivered a record $1.8 billion for the game. That windfall enabled the NRL to secure the future of all 16 clubs by providing them an annual grant of $13 million — $3 million more than the salary cap. The NRL’s bargaining position has been severely diminished since those heady days.

Make no mistake, State of Origin is still a ratings bonanza and the first two games of this series have been the top two ratings programs of the year. But Origin is now barely ahead of reality shows such as Married at First Sight, which are a lot cheaper than spending billions on rugby league rights.

The move to Sunday night Origins has bombed two years in a row and there will be pressure to go back to three midweek games. If the NRL doesn’t budge it can expect to take a hit to its broadcast revenue. And that will flow through to the clubs and create chaos with a reduced salary cap.

Mbye refused to be taken to hospital after allergic shock

News of Moses Mbye’s medical emergency in Maroons camp broke last weekend as this column was being put to bed, so we couldn’t get our teeth into it.

It’s an amazing story and there are a number of interesting parts to his serious anaphylactic allergic reaction.

Firstly, Mbye didn’t collapse, as was widely reported. He insisted he be treated in the hotel. The Queensland team doctor wanted him to be taken to hospital by ambulance. With fans and media in the hotel lobby, that was the last thing Mbye wanted.

Playing it down: Moses Mbye sought to assure Kevin Walters as soon as he could that he would be good to play for Queensland in Perth.

Playing it down: Moses Mbye sought to assure Kevin Walters as soon as he could that he would be good to play for Queensland in Perth.Credit:AAP

Secondly, he won’t know for six weeks what he is allergic to, but no one in his immediate family has any serious allergies. There are allergies in his wider family.

He was due to play golf with Queensland great Johnathan Thurston on the Friday – the players had a day off – when he got cold and needed to go and grab a jumper from his hotel room. He then started to notice other symptoms, hence the call to the doctor. He wasn’t treated using an EpiPen, as is normally the case when someone goes into anaphylactic shock. The Queensland doctor instead administered a needle of adrenalin, as the EpiPen was out of date.

Mbye says he never feared for his life and almost straight away looked Maroons coach Kevin Walters in the eyes and said that he was ‘‘good to go’’ for Origin II.

Easy on the eyes

George Burgess is very popular among the playing group at Souths – obviously with his brothers – but this latest alleged gouging incident has put him offside with most players in the game.
Gouging is a scourge.


If he’s found guilty, it will be the second time in eight months Burgess has been involved in such an incident. He was found guilty of the act while playing for England last year. I was prepared to overlook the first incident; it’s impossible to overlook the second.

South Sydney’s lack of desire to keep Burgess at the club beyond this year is, in part, based on the fact that he has lost the support of officials at the club. His 2014 grand final heroics will never be forgotten but this could be an ugly end to his Rabbitohs career.

How the west was won

Blake Ferguson staged one of the great Origin comebacks just to play in game two in Perth. His drinking episode in 2017 in the lead-up to the disastrous Origin decider, followed by his decision not to attend a Blues gathering this pre-season, had him at long odds to return. But Blues coach Brad Fittler needed a big body, and in came Fergo.

There he was after last Sunday’s game celebrating with cricketing great Adam Gilchrist in the Blues rooms. ‘‘NSW born and bred,’’ said Gilchrist. ‘‘It was so good that rugby league brought this game to Perth. The city loved it.’’

And Fergo loved it. ‘‘I hope that I repaid Freddy’s faith in me.’’

True blue: Blake Ferguson and Adam Gilchrist after Origin II in Perth.

True blue: Blake Ferguson and Adam Gilchrist after Origin II in Perth.

In defence of Cleary

Fittler loves Nathan Cleary. It’s why he wanted to give him every chance to be fit for Origin III.
Cleary’s efforts have Blues officials comparing his defence to league Immortal Andrew Johns. And they are confident Cleary’s attacking game will evolve.


A good sign of Cleary’s character was when he was injured. He posed for countless selfies and signed autographs when asked. The next day, while hobbling on crutches, he fronted the media and talked to whoever wanted to have a chat with him. The young man is a class act.

Give Pearce a chance

There have been bold declarations that Wade Graham is the best player to partner James Maloney in the halves if Cleary is ruled out with injury for the Origin decider.

Graham was brilliant off the bench for the Blues in Perth, and that’s something that would be sacrificed if he were in the starting side. There are also fears about who will run the show and do the kicking if Maloney goes down.


That’s why the best halfback in competition this season should be in line. Which brings us back to Mitchell Pearce. Sure he has head noise, but that could be drowned out by the loud voice of Maloney – a man he won a title with in 2013.

Mum knows best

Daniel Saifiti had a tough end to his Origin debut. Apart from having to catch the ‘‘red eye’’ back from Perth, he was pulled aside by Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority officials to give a sample.

Waiting in the Blues dressing room after the game was his mum, Bev, who flew in from Fiji, and her other son, Jacob. Bev broke the news to Daniel that she won’t be going home to Fiji until December.

‘‘So I can come to the Sydney game,’’ she said. Daniel stopped her right there. ‘‘Don’t get too far ahead of yourself, Mum,’’ he said. ‘‘I was only in the team for Klem [David Klemmer] and he is coming back for the decider, so I don’t know if I will be in the team.’’

Powering ahead: Daniel Saifiti will have at least major fan in his corner for Origin selection – his mum.

Powering ahead: Daniel Saifiti will have at least major fan in his corner for Origin selection – his mum.Credit:AAP

Lam chop

The proposed swap deal to get Sharks half Kyle Flanagan to the Roosters before June 30 got to the point that Cronulla were asking for players in return. The player they wanted to swap was Lachlan Lam. But, from what we are told, Lam was not keen to leave. He believes he can make a home for himself in the halves at the Roosters. Next year he will be locked in a battle with Flanagan.

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