CANTERBURY fanatic Craig Piper says it is hard to go past the influence of new coach Des Hasler on the Bulldogs in the club’s rise to the 2012 National Rugby League grand final on Sunday.
Canterbury was a club at the cross roads at the end of 2011.
The blue and whites, one of the most history-rich clubs in rugby league, had just sacked then coach Kevin Moore after missing out on a place in the finals.
But the club’s fortunes changed with the appointment of one man - Hasler.
“It’s hard to go past Des,” Mr Piper said.
“Just the little things he has brought to the club. He has improved players like Ben Barba out of sight.”
The Bulldogs take on the Melbourne Storm in the NRL decider on Sunday, searching for the club’s first premiership since 2004.
To win it, Mr Piper said the Dogs must shut down Cameron Smith, Billy Slater and Cooper Cronk.
“The big three,” he said.
“If we stop them I think we can win If we play it through the forwards, guys like Kasiano, Graham and Tolman will be able to use their second phase play.”
Mr Piper was on hand at ANZ Stadium eight years ago to watch the Bulldogs trump the Roosters 16-13 in their last premiership win.
He remembers the feeling of jubilation.
Given the club has a shot at winning another, Mr Piper said he “wouldn’t miss the grand final for the world.”