Bulldogs prop Aiden Tolman.

Bulldogs prop Aiden Tolman owes Des Hasler a great deal and he's not shy in saying it.

When the Manly coach they call 'The Mad Professor' faces his old club Canterbury-Bankstown for the first time in nearly two years, Tolman will be the one who is feeling sentimental.

Tolman was forced out of Melbourne Storm at the end of 2010, due to their salary cap troubles, and arrived at Belmore a year before Hasler arrived.

The blond-haired front-rower spent all six seasons with Hasler before the coach was sacked by the club in September 2017.

The Bulldogs fan base was on the rampage anyway after the club failed to make the finals for the first time in six years. They finished 11th in 2017.

Those memories are stoking social media again this week in the lead-up to the Bulldogs-Sea Eagles match on Saturday at Lottoland.

"When things happen at the club that are out of their control… it's hard when you're probably not told the full story and you hear what happens from the media – and we all know the media can spin stories sometimes – but that's the way it is," Tolman said in appreciating the angst among some fans ahead of this week's clash with Hasler's Manly side.

"If that's going to get them to turn up at Brookvale on Saturday afternoon we'll take that.

"From our point of view, the club did it cleanly in the end, they moved on well.

"We obviously have Dean [Pay] now and a new board so it's a brand new club here.

"But between these walls there's no grudge match against Des. He moved on and it happened more than 18 months now."

Tolman, 30, in particular feels a debt of gratitude to Hasler.

"I've been pretty lucky. I had Craig [Bellamy] to start my career which was great as he taught me all the little things I needed to do to be a first grader," Tolman said.

"Then Des took that to the next level as I grew older and a bit more experienced.

"Des was great for me both from a footy point of view and some family things as well. You have kids and things don't always go to plan, but Des was there for me and helped me out in my time of need.

"He does that stuff for his players. It's that stuff you don't see.

"The Des you see in the media is the different to the Des you see inside a footy team's walls.

"You can see at Manly at the moment that they're not only playing for themselves they're playing for him too and that's what he brought to our club."

While Manly lose a Queensland Origin player this week in Daly Cherry-Evans (ankle), the Bulldogs look like gaining one with Dylan Napa (ankle) expected to be close to returning.

"Well in saying that, they've turned up the last month without Tom Trbojevic and done well [with two wins from three games]," Tolman said.

"So just because they lose Cherry-Evans doesn't mean someone won't come in and do a good job. We can't be taking any team lightly."

Tolman says it doesn't take much to notice Hasler's influence at the Sea Eagles in 2019.

"I didn't watch Manly too much last year but they could score points – one of the best teams in attack on their day – but they just probably leaked too many," he said.

"That's probably Des's forte. When he came here that defensive structure and defensive mindset came too.

"You could see that tackle Marty Tapau did a couple of weeks ago against Souths [on Cameron Murray] and that epitomises what Des brings.

"It's going to be tough for us this weekend."