Hasler contract saga won’t destabilise us, says Peponis

The future of Des Hasler at Canterbury remains a delicate subject at Belmore but club statesman George Peponis does not believe the uncertainty about the coach will have a destabilising effect, quipping on Thursday: “We’re not a Wests Tigers”.

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While there have been reports that a two-year extension for Hasler is all but finalised his re-signing still appears some way off and by no means a fait accompli.

Fairfax Media has learnt that there is unlikely to be a final decision made on a contract extension for the coach for another eight rounds, which would be the mid-point of the season. The implication is that his retention is far from a done deal and is very much dependent on the team’s performance until then.

While the Hasler situation continues to linger in the background the Bulldogs head into Saturday’s visit to Lottoland to take on Manly with one win from three matches this season and will be eager to build on a round-three victory over the Warriors in Dunedin.

However, if a case of uncertainty about a coach spiralled out of control at the Tigers, culminating in the sacking of Jason Taylor on Monday, then that won’t be the case at Canterbury, argues Peponis.

“They’ve got a habit of doing that (changing coaches). We haven’t,” he said cheekily on Thursday. “We’re not a Wests Tigers.”

Peponis, the Canterbury Leagues Club chairman, was honoured along with Sydney Roosters chairman Nick Politis and South Sydney chairman Nick Pappas for their contributions to the game at a Hellenic Club lunch in Sydney that hosted some of league’s most powerful figures. The former Bulldogs and Australian captain is removed from the call on Hasler despite the board of the booming leagues club sharing four directors with the football club board and being a financial backer, but he retains a keen interest.

“I’m not directly involved in those decisions,” Peponis said. “We have a good working relationship. I had dinner with Des and his wife and our chairman and CEO and their partners not long ago and it was very cordial. I think it’s a work in progress and ultimately I think that Des is capable and good enough to prove himself. I think Des’s record speaks for itself and I think he’ll prove himself that he’s capable and the right person for the job.”

Hasler has already been linked to the vacant Tigers job, which Ivan Cleary is the favourite, but the Bulldogs are adamant they won’t be rushed.