A “devastated” Josh Jackson has revealed he attempted to save Trent Barrett’s job by fronting the board to fight for the “brilliant” coach.
Barrett’s resignation from the head coaching role was announced on Monday, however there’s been reports suggesting he was forced out.
The playing group were sent home early on Monday and told not to return to training until Wednesday.
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Jackson was the first player to front the media.
The 31-year-old, who’s played all of his 227 NRL games with the Bulldogs, took responsibility for Barrett’s departure.
“Obviously it’s been a tough couple of days, devastated for Trent and how it’s all worked out and I guess ultimately (I) feel responsible at the end of the day,” he said.
“Us players are responsible for the performances on the field and we obviously haven’t been getting the results. That’s why we’ve ended up in this situation.”
Jackson also confirmed that he had hoped to try and prevent the decision.
“To my knowledge the board were going to sit down on Monday to just have a chat about the future and the results and I just asked if I could speak to them and let them know that he has the support of all the players,” he said.
“That’s totally true, I fully support him.
“He’s a fantastic coach and I really just want to make that known that he certainly has the full support of us.
“For me personally, he’s been fantastic for me, I think he’s a brilliant coach — he’s probably the most well-rounded coach that I’ve had. He’s a great communicator, he’s a great motivator, he’s got great footy intelligence… he’s been fantastic for me.”
Asked if Barrett was the best coach he’s had, Jackson said: “Yeah I think so… he probably would be, yeah.
“He’s a well-rounded coach, I went through all his attributes before but he’s a fantastic coach,” he added.
“I hope he doesn’t give it up and I hope he pushes on because he’s got a lot of value to add to footy and to different organisations.”
Jackson spoke to Barrett on Monday after Canterbury-Bankstown’s general manager of football, Phil Gould, informed the playing group of what had happened.
“As you’d expect he was pretty upset,” Jackson said of his conversation with Barrett.
“He felt like he was going to be here long term and be a part of the change when we sort of started turning things around here. I think he was disappointed that he couldn’t be a part of that.”
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Despite his wish for Barrett to still be at the club, Jackson said he is “not at all” by his decision.
“I understand it, there’s been a fair bit of pressure on him,” he said.
“I guess at this club, members and fans and everyone involved in the club demands results and performances and unfortunately we haven’t delivered on that over the past couple of years.”
Barrett’s exit wasn’t the only one this week with Brent Naden following him out the door to sign with the Wests Tigers.
The deal was revealed when the Tigers’ dropped their team list on Tuesday with Naden being named in the extended squad.
It was a shock to Bulldogs fans — and a shock to the playing group too, according to Jackson, who conceded it’s been a “disrupted” week.
“The Brent one as well as a little bit out of the blue,” he said.
“I spoke to him yesterday, I’m not too sure about the circumstances surrounding it but I just rang him to make sure he was all right.
“He felt pretty comfortable with his decision and said that he made the best decision for his family so as long as he and his family are happy then I guess that’s the main thing.”
Jack Hetherington may also be heading for the exit with reports he’s been given permission to leave the club early, but Jackson isn’t fearful of a mass exodus following this week’s events.
Instead, the playing group are focused on responding on the field when they take on the Tigers on Friday night.
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“The conversations that we’ve had have obviously been around Trent leaving but I guess now we’ve got two choices; we can use that as an excuse for poor performances and poor preparation; or we can rally together,” he said.
“I guess the best way we can respond to this situation is go out there and win — and that’s what we plan to do.”
Former Bulldog Mick Potter has been appointed interim coach, but won’t take full control until next week.
“He addressed us this week and said he’s come in late obviously so he’s just going to sit back and let the assistants do their thing,” Jackson said of Potter.
“He’ll sort of chime in where he can but mainly take over the reins from next week.
“I think he’s a fantastic addition, he’s a premiership winner here and he’s got a lot of experience as a head coach. He brings an outside perspective as well, which I think is important.”