Bulldogs unlikely to bite back until 2021 as Pay muzzles expectations


It will be up to the board if they persist with him long enough for him to reap the rewards of what he is attempting to sow.

Justin Holbrook is one man being linked to Pay’s job. But Pay is old school and doesn’t get bogged down with the speculation.

In the kennel: Dallin Watene-Zelezniak was a big acquisition for the Bulldogs.Credit:AAP

“The job has its challenges; there are good days and bad days, like every other job, except you’re under more scrutiny than most,” he said. “I knew that when I got into it.

“All I can control is what I’m doing here.  My job is to build this team into a top-four team. We want to get there as soon as we can, and if that’s 2021, great, but we need to make sure we keep developing these young players and bringing the kids through.

“Once we get our cap under control, we can then go and buy another quality player like Dallin. I’d love three or four Dallins playing in different positions, which would bring us up to being a force in this competition.

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“Right now we’ll take a couple of steps forward and then a couple of steps back because of how young these guys are. That’s the reality of it.

“Once these guys get to 50 or 60 NRL games by [2021], they’ll feel like regular first-graders.

“The way I look at it, I need to leave this place in better shape than when I first got here. It might not look it on the field, but we’re putting in some good processes that will help get us to where we need to be.”

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Few give the Bulldogs any chance of upsetting the premiers on Sunday afternoon at ANZ Stadium and Canterbury’s cause will not be helped by the absence of Foran, who ran out of time to return from a hamstring injury.

Foran ran three times during the week but physio Tony Ayoub thought it was best to give him at least one more week.

The big-money playmaker showed glimpses of his best against Wests Tigers and Cronulla, only to injure himself in both games.

“‘Foz’ is champing at the bit to get back out there, and if he can stay injury-free and string some games together, he’ll get back to what he’s capable of and even go past it, I know he will,” Pay said.

Pay, whose new support staff consists of Craig Wilson, Dave Hamilton and Mark Hughes, also said Dylan Napa was excited to take on his former club again, and if there was one criticism of the representative front-rower, it’s that he is “probably trying too hard”.

Josh Jackson continues to try his heart out each week – his effort to deny Corey Oates a try last round was inspirational – while the return of Aiden Tolman is a huge plus.

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