SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 08: Head coach Dean Pay of the Bulldogs speaks to the media during a press conference following the round four NRL match between the Canterbury Bulldogs and the St George Illawarra Dragons at Bankwest Stadium on June 08, 2020 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 08: Head coach Dean Pay of the Bulldogs speaks to the media during a press conference following the round four NRL match between the Canterbury Bulldogs and the St George Illawarra Dragons at Bankwest Stadium on June 08, 2020 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

Matty Johns: Dogs didn’t Pay their respects

Tough call on Dean Pay.

When you sign on to become a head coach you'll almost certainly one day be sacked. Very few walk away with a club not wanting them to go.

For coaches, the penthouse to the basement tends to be more a trapdoor than a set of stairs.

The difference in Pay's case is, he was never in a position which gave him proper opportunity to succeed.

From the moment Deano got the job, he's been under the gun.

In recent times the expectations of what the team and the coach could achieve were unrealistic.

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Dean Pay was never given a chance. Picture: Mark Kolbe/Getty
Dean Pay was never given a chance. Picture: Mark Kolbe/Getty

 

I feel for the Dogs' players. It's a squad full of youth who have had to listen day in, day out about how bad their roster is.

What they are is inexperienced.

These young players have plenty of tomorrows left in the game but due to the dire state of the club's salary cap, were thrown in before their time.

They should still be honing their craft in the lower grades, where rookie errors are made away from the spotlight and back pages of the paper.

Look at the case of Harry Grant, a young man who's developed his craft slowly at a club with depth who could afford to hold him back probably 12 months after he was ready to go.

But Dean Pay had no choice but to play the youngsters and wear the pain for both he and his players.

 

Dean Pay (middle Bulldog) crunches Glenn Lazarus.
Dean Pay (middle Bulldog) crunches Glenn Lazarus.

 

What's made it worse is the fact that his central playmaker and most vital part of the team's puzzle, Kieran Foran, has been mostly in the grandstands, or at least forced to play injured during Pay's tenure.

A lot has been made of the family club not treating one of its own fairly.

But really, let's take loyalty out of it. Loyalty is rare in professional sport these days.

Players and coaches are loyal to clubs if they are paid what they're worth.

Clubs are loyal to players and coaches as long as they are performing as they expect them to.

Once again, the bottom line is Pay never found himself in a position which would enable him to succeed.

You'll notice a number of former players and current coaches have lent their support to Dean Pay in recent times.

That's because Deano is an easy man to admire.

No matter what team he played in, he was a leader.

 

The young Bulldogs have copped it from every angle this season. Picture: Albert Perez/Getty
The young Bulldogs have copped it from every angle this season. Picture: Albert Perez/Getty

 

During the Dogs' 1995 finals series, where they kept defying the odds on their way to the title, Pay took on every pack, every week and came out on top.

I remember their upset win against the Brisbane Broncos particularly well. The Broncos' legendary front-rower Glenn Lazarus took the ball up in typically robust fashion, Pay hit him with a bone-rattling shoulder charge, Lazzo left the field with a busted rib. Dogs won the football game.

Whoever replaces Pay will quickly find out what a tricky job they've taken on.

The modern day head coach has a lot more to contend with than just coaching.

About 10 years ago I received a call from a club asking if I would apply for their head coaching job, which was soon to be vacated.

In the midst of considering it, I received a call from Craig Bellamy who'd heard whispers of a club contacting me.

He wanted to make me aware that head coaching was so much more than developing talent and game plans. It was about player welfare, sponsor commitments, club politics, assembling a coaching team, dealing with media, handling intense pressure and day-to-day monotony.

Basically I had a stable job, I should stick to it.

Great advice, and I took it.

The Dogs job is pressure at many levels.

Trying to rebuild a roster, which granted the Dogs do have money to spend. However, in the key positions there's not a lot available.

At the same time dealing with growing expectations in a club where there are many factions.

There have been rumours, they were desperate to land Wayne Bennett. I can understand why. It's going to be a tough, experienced coach who can handle all this.

Originally published as Matty Johns: Dogs didn't Pay their respects


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