The Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs' most criticised duo, Moses Mbye and Michael Lichaa, don't blame former coach Des Hasler for their mixed form but believe his style "just didn't suit us".
Lichaa and Mbye opened up in a forthright chat on the NRL Podcast from their Terrigal hotel room during the club's pre-season camp this week, reflecting on a tumultuous period in their lives and revealing their excitement about the recent changes at Belmore.
Lichaa was headed for the exit door last year before taking it upon himself to disregard Hasler's game plan. He started running from dummy half and produced a blistering three-week finish to the season.
''I needed a job. I didn't want to dig holes,'' Lichaa told NRL.com.
''I just had nothing to lose. I just thought if I do what I want and I get dropped, then I get dropped. It was a nervous time. You have bills to pay and a family.
''At 23 or 24 years old, you don't want to be finishing up footy, that's where you just want to be kicking off. You don't want to finish at 23 or 24 thinking it could have been this or it could have been that. It was a scary time.''
In the weeks leading into Lichaa's resurgence, Mbye was thrown into hooker and admitted he was uncomfortable with the positional change and the impact it had on his close friend.
''At that time of the year we were just clutching at straws,'' Mbye said.
''We just had nothing. We were playing s--- footy. We weren't playing a good brand of footy. He [Hasler] was putting me at nine, but obviously he [Lichaa] is a better nine … Me and Leesh had this chat so many times just phone calls after training calling each other saying 'what's doing?'.''
Mbye also reflects on life without knowing his father, who walked out on the family when he was a baby.
''What are you going to do?'' Mbye said.
''You're not going to kick stones about your old man not being around. It's a bit of a cop-out. It's a mediocre excuse.''
- Listen to the NRL Podcast IV: Moses Mbye and Michael Lichaa
- Listen to the NRL Podcast III: Nathan Cleary and James Maloney
- Listen to the NRL Podcast II: Josh Reynolds
- Listen to the NRL Podcast I: David Klemmer and Aaron Woods
Mbye also discussed why he and now Wests Tigers player Josh Reynolds never clicked as a halves combination.
''Me and Grub [Reynolds], we're running style players,'' he said.
''We both want to focus on our running game more than creating opportunities. I think there was the pressure of that and also a lack of knowledge of the game – especially on my behalf.
''When we had Trent [Hodkinson] playing, you seen (sic) how good Grub was playing alongside Trent. They went on to end the [NSW] drought playing Origin together.''
''What I was trying to do is what Hodkinson did, and I wasn't good at that. It wasn't that we could never work together, it's because we didn't work together because we did it wrong.
''I was trying to play a different style of footy than what I should have been playing. I wasn't trying to play my style of footy.''