Trent Barrett will be tasked with reshaping the Bulldogs from the bottom up as Canterbury prepares to follow Penrith’s blueprint for success.
Bulldogs boss Andrew Hill said Barrett’s ability to connect with players and his openness about his failings at Manly helped convince the club they had their right man.
The Bulldogs capped the best seven days in their recent history on Tuesday when they announced Laundy Hotels as their major sponsor for the next 2½ years.
It followed the appointment of Barrett as coach, signing Test star Nick Cotric, re-signing Brandon Wakeham and Raymond Faitala-Mariner, and an upset victory against the Knights last Sunday.
Hill said Barrett’s pathway plans were crucial.
“We are looking for the coach to have a whole of club philosophy and bring pathway programs and bring some talented kids through a system,” Hill said.
“Certainly Penrith are the benchmark club in being able to produce players through a system. That’s important to us. Plus his ability to connect and get the best out of our players. His vision aligns with us.
“We are rebuilding but we have some great kids coming through. We have to hand-pick a couple of players to strengthen our squad.
“He sees current value in our roster. A couple of positions need strengthening but his vision is we are a better football team than where we are at the moment.
“We’ve been quite vocal about what people say about our roster. The roster needs to be strengthened but it can play good footy.
“He knows we need to strengthen it but he sees good value in the players we’ve got. He is confident he can get the best out of the roster and you add players like Luke Thompson and Nick Cotric we really see us progressing higher up the ladder.”
Barrett’s time at Manly ended with a high-profile falling out with the club.
Hill said Barrett addressed his learnings from his time at the Sea Eagles. He identified he was too fixated on areas outside on-field results.
“It will be a single focus for him,” Hill said. “He got distracted by a lot of outside noise and he needed people around him to help him focus on football.
“We have discussed that and we will put things in place with his support staff. He is here to coach our footy team and oversee the pathways programs for the whole club.
“Our phones have been ringing hot about people wanting to join us. We are taking our time to think what type of structures we want to put in place that works for Canterbury.
“It’s not something you can copy and paste from other clubs. We have some good pathway programs. The foundations are here. What we need to do is identify the areas we need to improve on. He has to observe before we make those fundamental changes.”
Hill said offers had been made to backrower Adam Elliott and Kieran Foran and he hoped to know shortly if they would recommit to the club but, in terms of external recruits, they would sit back and wait to see what happens at other clubs,
Canterbury were the only team without a front of jersey sponsor.
Hill said Laundy coming on board “was a vote of confidence for where the club is headed”.
“This sponsorship isn’t just about a corporate partner joining the football club,” Hill said.
“To have a family like the Laundy family, the support they will bring not just commercially but from a government perspective, networking, the doors they will open will be great.
“Equally important is their desire to connect to our players and help them prepare for life after footy. To have that ability to connect with our players and staff is significant.”