COACHES IN THE SIGHTS OF NRL CLUB CANTERBURY AFTER TRENT BARRETT'S RESIGNATION
BRAD FITTLER (NSW Origin)
The former Penrith and Sydney Roosters star has earned some serious coaching credits through his role as NSW's State of Origin coach since 2018. Under his watch the Blues have won three of the past four series and promoted club talents such as Payne Haas, Nathan Cleary and Josh Addo-Carr to help make them proven Origin performers. Enjoys a strong relationship with Bulldogs director of football Phil Gould from his time at the Roosters, who he coached for three seasons from 2007 to 2009. Whether Fittler would want to return to NRL coaching given his status with the Blues remains unclear however.
KRISTIAN WOOLF (St Helens)
Woolf led Tonga in its rise to international prominence, including victories over the Kangaroos and Kiwis, and has since won 40 of 52 games with English Super League club St Helens after taking over in 2020. The 46-year-old's exploits in England have sent his stock high and his international contacts would be valuable for recruitment. The knock on Woolf would be his lack of NRL head coaching experience despite a brief interim role at Newcastle in 2019, and it would be a gamble by the Bulldogs board to go with a rookie coach to replace Barrett.
CAMERON CIRALDO (Penrith assistant)
Ciraldo is a widely respected part of the coaching set-up at the Panthers and has been earmarked during their rise to the NRL's elite as a future senior coach. Sound familiar? That's because it is pretty much exactly how Barrett put himself into the Bulldogs frame after his previous ill-fated head coaching role at Manly. There's no doubt Phil Gould rates Ciraldo and would love to give him a chance but whether the Bulldogs' board is willing to revisit the path taken with Barrett is very much up for debate. There's also the question of whether Ciraldo would risk his own reputation by taking over a club with as many issues as the Bulldogs for his first head coaching role.
PAUL GREEN (unattached)
Available after being dumped by Queensland after just one State of Origin series in charge of the Maroons, Green has made it very clear he is desperate to return to NRL coaching. The 49-year-old's reputation may have taken a hit during his ill-fated stint at the Maroons and a disappointing final three seasons at North Queensland but he also coached the Cowboys to 96 wins from 181 games, leading them to two grand finals and their inaugural premiership in 2015. Tough and uncompromising with a sharp rugby league intellect, Green's record as a proven winner would be enticing, while he has also shown an ability to attract and work with big name players.
SHANE FLANAGAN (unattached)
After guiding Cronulla to their maiden premiership in 2016, Flanagan's coaching career was derailed in 2018 when he was de-registered by the NRL for breaching rules during a 12-month suspension in relation to Cronulla's 2011 supplement program. Flanagan won 108 of 198 games in charge of the Sharks and his track record makes a good case for being given a shot at redemption. Son Kyle also plays at the Bulldogs, a situation that has at times created tension between the 56-year-old and Bulldogs officials given Flanagan's concerns over how the club has used his son. Desperate to return to NRL coaching, any conflicts with officials as well as the Bulldogs under-performing roster would be unlikely to dissuade Flanagan, who is no stranger to off-field dramas following his time at the Sharks.
Australian Associated Press
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