Bulldogs coach Dean Pay and the club have mutually agreed to part ways effective immediately.
Sources close to The Sydney Morning Herald have said Pay knew his time was up and decided to leave before he was pushed, with the two clubs agreeing on a financial deal for some of Pay’s remaining contract.
Pay will leave the Bulldogs after a demoralising loss to the Broncos on Saturday night, after which Pay said “it would be in everyone’s interests” if the board made a call on his future.
Bulldogs Chief Executive Andrew Hill thanked Pay for his contributions to the club.
“These decisions are always tough, particularly when they involve someone who has been part of the Bulldogs family for a long time,” Hill said in a statement.
“The fact is though that the Ccub and Dean have decided that we needed to move in a different direction to take the team forward and Dean was in agreement that now was the right time for both parties to part ways.
“We did not rush into this decision and have taken our time to look at what was best for the club in regard to success moving forward.
I’d like to thank Dean for his contribution over the past three years and all the hard work and passion he has given to the club.”
Pay added: “I’d like to thank the Bulldogs for the opportunity to be the head coach at a club that has always meant so much to me.”
Steve Georgallis will take on the interim head coach duties until Pay’s replacement is named.
Panthers assistant Trent Barrett is reportedly the frontrunner for the full-time job, who is currently in charge of attack at the Panthers.
Canterbury boss Andrew Hill has reportedly already informed his Penrith counterpart Dave O’Neil of their interest in focusing on Barrett during their coaching search, with Penrith unlikely to stand in Barrett’s way despite him being under contract until 2021.
“Trent has done an amazing job since returning to the club and we see him having a long-term future here,” O’Neill told the Herald.
Barrett could take over a squad who has failed to make the finals since 2017, but which also has large amounts of salary cap room to attract big name players.
His last head coaching tenure was at Manly where he won 27 of his 73 games in charge.