The intense scrutiny of coach Dean Pay has eased momentarily with Canterbury’s first NRL victory of the season – a 22-2 defeat of the still winless St George Illawarra.
Both teams came into the game with a 0-3 record for 2020, but only one coach left with a bold question mark over his future.
Pay and Dragons coach Paul McGregor have a friendship which dates back decades, making the Bulldogs’ win on Monday afternoon a bittersweet one.
Although there was talk last week both coaches were under pressure to save their jobs, Monday’s loss put McGregor even further into the fire.
“I do, I feel a lot for him,” Pay said.
“We’ve been mates a long time. He’s going through a tough time and I really feel for him.”
After a difficult week in the headlines, Pay had some relief when the Bulldogs rallied with a near-perfect second half to notch the win.
However, he said the scrutiny bothered his family and friends more than him.
“I get asked this a lot; my job is to just focus on what we’re doing,” he said.
“It’s difficult on the family and friends than anything else. I think they worry about it more than I do.
“My job is to make these players better players.”
The win marked the return of star half Kieran Foran from a shoulder injury for his 200th NRL game.
Confidence was high with Foran on the park and, despite a rocky start, the Bulldogs completed 22 from 23 sets to finish the game with improvement in their execution.
“He did his job. We just brought him off at the end just to give him a spell. He made 25 tackles, done his job really well,” Pay said of Foran.
“He gives everyone a lift in the place. He’s helping out our younger guys. He did his job really well tonight.”