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25 Jun 2017 22:19
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  •   Home > News > Sports > Rugby League

    Graham defiant on Bulldogs' NRL problems

    Canterbury captain James Graham says neither the NRL club's attacking structure nor its off-field dramas can be blamed for their form slump.

    - article from

    Defiant Canterbury captain James Graham has refused to shed light on chairman Ray Dib's changeroom talk to players following their humiliating 38-0 NRL loss to Penrith.

    But he denied a report that Dib asked Des Hasler if he could speak to the players without the coach present, or that the chairman addressing players post-match was anything out of ordinary for the Bulldogs.

    Canterbury have sunk to 14th on the ladder following their fourth straight loss - the first time they have been out of the eight at the season midpoint since Hasler's arrival in 2012.

    "What he (Dib) said I'm not going to repeat because it's private," Graham said.

    "Was he disappointed, yeah. Was it an emotional time? Yeah it was.

    "But the floor was open. Des was in the room. Nothing was without Des being there. We all spoke openly."

    There was a suggestion on Wednesday that Dib had reinforced the club's backing for recently re-signed Hasler, while Graham hit back when asked if the chairman and coach had exchanged heated words after the match.

    "No (they didn't), and what does it matter if they did?" he said.

    "You've got two people who want the best for the club who want to see results change."

    Dib was labelled "reactive" by former Bulldogs life member Graeme Hughes this week over the board's decision to re-sign Hasler in April, just eight days after the chairman claimed he wouldn't be rushed on the issue.

    Hughes, now a broadcaster, won a premiership with the Bulldogs in 1980 and unsuccessfully ran for the Bulldogs board in 2008. He is a part of one of the club's biggest families.

    However Dib, who will face a board election next year, suggested the club may not have landed big names Aaron Woods or Kieran Foran for 2018 without the coach's future secured.

    The pair's signings have prompted fears about the club's salary cap position for next year, with the limit still to be set.

    Josh Reynolds, a favourite among players and fans, is already set to leave after the Bulldogs failed to meet the price offered by the cashed-up Wests Tigers, but Graham denied disappointment over was playing a role in their slump.

    "Of course the playing group are disappointed and sad about that," Graham said.

    "But Josh wasn't playing on the weekend. That's not the reason why we lost.

    "If I knew (what had gone wrong) I'd tell the playing group before it happened."

    Nor did he believe the issue was in their attacking structure - which former captain Michael Ennis claimed on Tuesday night hadn't changed in five years.

    Dib on Tuesday admitted the team's football was "not pleasing a lot of people".

    But Graham said it wasn't the team's tactics that were the issue ahead of his and Reynolds' returns from injury against St George Illawarra on Monday.

    "You've got to strip it back a little bit more and look at some of the fundamental errors we've been making rather than it being a style issue," he said.


    © 2017 NZN, NZCity

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