Premiership or bust.
That’s the all-or-nothing ultimatum Canterbury icon Terry Lamb has put on this year’s Bulldogs side, who are still without a NRL trophy under premiership-winning coach Des Hasler’s tenure.
Since Hasler moved to Belmore in 2012, the Bulldogs have never failed to reach the finals, twice progressing to the decider only to fall at the last hurdle.
Lamb said the club needed to win at least one premiership before Hasler’s contract expired at the end of 2017.
“Dessie’s got a couple more years to go – we need to win the comp,” Lamb told AAP.
“We’ve been in the semis for the last four years and come up with nothing. We need to do something, not just get caught at second, third or that kind of stuff.”
The Bulldogs have been one of the more settled rosters over the summer, but have lost key playmaker Trent Hodkinson and gained NSW State of Origin representative Will Hopoate.
Hopoate reunites with Hasler, who won a premiership with the former Eel at Manly in 2011.
Lamb, who played 262 games for the Bulldogs between 1984-96, said the absence of Hodkinson’s calming influence would be greatly felt but was excited at the prospect of watching the more dynamic Moses Mbye.
“We’re going to miss Hokko. I watched Hokko play from 12 years old – he played with my son – so I used to see him come through the ranks, and I liked him. He’s very calm,” he said.
“But I like Moses too, because he’s got a little bit more spark, more pace, left foot kicker. I hope him and Josh (Reynolds) work well together. That’s what we need.”
Lamb challenged Reynolds, who twice missed games due to suspension last year, to shelve his kamikaze-style in order to take on the leadership hole left by Hodkinson.
With little halves depth behind them, keeping both Reynolds and Mbye healthy will be paramount.
“We know Josh is out there, he goes 100 miles an hour,” he said.
“But now, whoever’s going to control the game, Josh needs to settle down and be steady, talk to the players, although Moses can help him. I know he can because he’s been there quite a few years.”
The Bulldogs open their season against Manly on March 4.