Bulldogs are behind Ciraldo's training methods: Mahoney


Co-captain Reed Mahoney has shot down suggestions the Canterbury playing group is unhappy under Cameron Ciraldo but concedes it will take time before the struggling club is truly united by a winning culture.

It comes as Ciraldo's long-term coaching mentor Ivan Cleary threw his support behind the rookie Bulldogs boss amid claims of overly strict training methods.

Ciraldo has been under scrutiny since it came to light a Bulldogs player had taken mental-health leave after being made to wrestle a long line of teammates as punishment for arriving late to training.

Mahoney said he had since been in contact with the unnamed player, a fringe first-grader at the Bulldogs.

"His welfare is our priority and the club and the group are doing a great job of that," he said.

An assistant coach in Penrith's back-to-back premiership victories, Ciraldo has since doubled down on his approach, adamant that only hard work would lift the 15th-placed Bulldogs out of the mire.

He has the backing of football boss Phil Gould and former mentor Cleary, who oversaw similar rebuilds at the Warriors and Panthers.

"I support Cameron 100 per cent," Cleary said.

"If you want to change things, change culture in any workplace, it's not always going to be smooth. From the outside looking in, they're just going through those growing pains."

But reports emerged this week that players were divided about the wrestling punishment, training loads and the length of the club's work days. Mahoney refuted these claims.

"Everyone's on board," the hooker said.

"Training's always hard. If it was easy, everyone would be doing it. It's hard to get here (to the NRL) but it's also harder to stay.

"You come to training sometimes and you might feel sore and that but sometimes you've just got to get through it. That's part of life being a professional athlete.

"As players, we're all on board and we're willing to do whatever it takes this week especially but going forward as well."

Recruited from the Panthers this year, Bulldogs forward Viliame Kikau said Ciraldo's strict methods were consistent with the back-to-back premiers'.

"I've been training under 'Ciro' for that long now so that was sort of the same training load," he said.

As they look to move on from a week in the headlines, the Bulldogs playing group has met to discuss internal standards and ensure they are on the same page.

With a new coach and captaincy structure, and new faces Kikau, Jacob Preston, Ryan Sutton and Toby Sexton arriving this year, Mahoney said the Bulldogs needed to be patient in assembling a winning culture.

"It's not going to happen overnight," he said.

"We knew it was going to be a hard road and we're trying to do everything we can to get the results on the weekend.

"There's always things you can around your culture, whether that's coaching or off the field or anything.

"I know as a group and this staff, we're working really hard to make sure we know what's right. At the moment, that's the standards that we train by and the standards that we live by."