Following the dire results of Des Hasler’s now notorious back ended deals, the Bulldogs are currently undertaking one of the most substantial rebuilds in the history of the NRL under rookie head coach Dean Pay, and boy could they use the help of some of the names on this list.
Having struggled to forge an identity and playing extremely dire football in the last few months of Hasler’s reign, the Bulldogs have predominantly gone away from the previous policy of attracting big name high earners to the club.
With second-year coach Dean Pay wanting to bring back the old ‘Dogs of War’ moniker, through recruiting a slew of young cut-price talent such as Nick Meaney, Sauaso Sue, Jack Cogger, Corey Harawira Naera and Christian Crichton and simultaneously letting go a host of proven first graders. Here is the top 10 players the Bulldogs have let go, not re-signed or released in the past decade.
9. James Graham
After cementing himself as one of the world’s premier forwards with boyhood club St Helen’s, the Bulldogs signed James Graham for the 2012 season.
Over the following five seasons, Graham made 135 appearances for the blue and white, gained the captaincy, and cemented himself as the spiritual leader of the Belmore based club.
Unfortunately for Graham, like a few other names that will feature on this list, he became a victim of then-coach Des Hasler’s notorious back-ended deals. The Englishmen was set to net over a million dollars in the final year of his contract at Belmore and was keen to stay and help be a part of the inevitable rebuild that was staring the Bulldogs in the face. Sadly, Graham was informed that the best way in which he could help the club was to leave.
On the lookout for an experienced forward to lead their young pack, and also goaded by the fact that the Bulldogs would contribute substantially to the first-year of his contract, the St George Illawarra Dragons jumped at the opportunity to sign a player of his calibre in the lead up to the 2018 season.
Graham has since gone onto cement himself as a leader in Wollongong and appear for the Dragons 35 times. Coach Paul McGregor has also lauded Graham for his off the field contribution to the club, helping instill a culture of hard work amongst the Dragons young up and coming forwards, a trait desperately required in Belmore currently.