Pay: 'We need to be better as a team'
Dean Pay has described Canterbury's attacking woes as a "mental issue" amid growing concern around the fitness of marquee half Kieran Foran and increasing contract speculation at the club.
The Bulldogs were once again listless with the ball in hand as they went down 14-10 to Wests Tigers on Sunday, slumping to their ninth loss of the year.
Despite some initial promising signs under the new Pay regime earlier in the season, Canterbury have since fallen into the same red zone attacking patterns that plagued the final years of the Des Hasler era.
"I think it's just a mental issue," Pay said.
"I just think we got down the other end there, we got a little bit of ball and just threw nothing at them.
"We've got to be better than that. We just can't hit the ball up and hit the ball up and expect to score a try."
That description will be painfully familiar to Bulldogs fans, who are also entitled to question the signing of Foran on a lucrative three-year deal last year despite his long injury history.
The Kiwi halfback remained in doubt for the Tigers clash right up until kick-off after gingerly nursing a back injury through the warm-up, and has often looked to be struggling for full movement, particularly in lateral defence, since arriving at Canterbury last year.
Foran finished with just three runs for nine metres against the Tigers, light years behind the 11 runs for 108 metres from opposite number Luke Brooks.
Pay admitted his halves had to wear some responsibility for the Bulldogs' ailing attack, which at 15.25 points per game ranks better than only last-placed Parramatta.
"It does come back to our halves and everybody else out there too," he said.
"I'm not just blaming our halves we need to be better as a team. Because we're all looking around for someone to take control of the game and we can't find that person. That's been happening week after week."
The going doesn't get much easier for the Bulldogs in their next match on June 11 following a much-needed round 13 bye.
There they will face a Dragons outfit including former captain James Graham sure to be smarting from a heavy loss to Penrith at the weekend.
While Canterbury are still paying a significant amount of Graham's Red V wage, stars Moses Mbye and Aaron Woods are the latest big names in the firing line as the club looks to ease salary cap pressure created by heavily back-ended deals.
However, Pay was bullish when it was suggested that the ongoing speculation was taking its toll on the paddock.
"Our job is to make sure we prepare each week," Pay said.
"Our job's to play a game of footy on the weekend. That's our sole focus during the week.
''All the speculation and everything that's swirling around the club, that's what it is for us. We turn up to training and we train. We get on with it."