Payten shock candidate to become top Dog

Todd Payten could loom as a shock candidate to replace Des Hasler at Canterbury after the veteran coach was sacked.

Payten is among a field of early possibilities for the Bulldogs’ top job, which also includes former Bulldogs players Dean Pay and Jim Dymock, as well as sacked Souths coach Michael Maguire.

It is understood Payten’s name has previously been discussed at Belmore.

Currently working under Paul Green at North Queensland, the former Wests Tigers prop has also been mooted as a potential candidate for the Gold Coast job.

He has a close link with incoming forward Aaron Woods, having worked with the former Wests Tigers captain as both a teammate and an assistant coach at Concord.

Payten was a popular figure at the Tigers before he left the club for Townsville at the end of 2014, and Woods spoke of him in glowing terms earlier this season when he was considered a candidate to replace Jason Taylor at the merged club.

Of the other candidates, Pay has also been in talks with English Super League club Warrington, while Maguire is considered a front-runner for the Titans’ top job.

Dymock, an assistant at the Bulldogs, also confirmed earlier this month he would throw his hand up for the role if it became available – but is off-contract at the club this summer.

Bulldogs chairman Ray Dib said on Tuesday the club would begin a search for a new coach immediately.

“The club believes the decision to change our football leadership was absolutely necessary,” Dib said.

“The club will now begin its search for a new head coach and will provide further information once that process has been completed.”

It is believed Dib spoke to incoming half Kieran Foran about the situation last week, given his close bond with Hasler.

Foran won a premiership under the former Manly mentor in 2011, and has made no secret of the fact Hasler played a key role in attracting him to the club for next year from the Warriors.

Despite that, the 27-year-old is not believed have a get-out clause in his contract that would allow him to follow Hasler out of the club.

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