Canterbury coach Des Hasler has bitten back at his side’s critics, brushing off claims they’re shaping as NRL also-rans.
The Bulldogs are right in the mix, placed fourth with four regular rounds to play but have copped criticism after unconvincing wins over strugglers St George Illawarra and Newcastle in the last fortnight.
While Hasler attributed those performances to the opposition and also difficult conditions on Saturday in Newcastle, legends Darren Lockyer and Brad Fittler cast doubt over their title credentials.
Lockyer said he believed they were out of the running and too inconsistent while Fittler said they were “winning ugly” and getting home on the back of some individual brilliance.
However Hasler, whose side has won six of their last seven matches, pointed to their position on the ladder as proof of their credentials.
“Winning ugly, what does that mean? We’re winning games when we need to,” Hasler said.
“Obviously at the same time it’s a pretty tight comp.
“There’s three sides fighting for third and fourth and how many sides are fighting it out for sixth, seventh and eighth spot?
“I think that’s a good thing.”
The Bulldogs have lost just three games since round 10 in May with all of those defeats coming against sides in top four contention – North Queensland (fifth), Cronulla (second) and Canberra (third).
They are also third in the league for completions and fourth for metres made, illustrating they’re capable of executing and dominating their opposition.
Asked about suggestions they weren’t in the hunt, Hasler was blunt: “Well we’re in fourth place.”