Manly Sea Eagles are favourites for the 2012 NRL title says New Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs coach Des Hasler ahead of his first season away from Brookvale. Hasler arrived at Belmore with enormous expectations, following a dramatic move from the premiers Manly in the off-season, inheriting a team that has under-achieved since winning the NRL competition in 2004. And while he is excited at the talent within his young Bulldogs squad, Hasler says Manly remain the competition favourites. "You really can't compare the two squads. Manly are the No.1 side out there, every side should be comparing themselves to Manly." "They're the benchmark." The two-time premiership-winning coach readily accepts he has taken a major downgrade in playing group by moving from Manly to the Bulldogs - but he sees potential in a young and talented Canterbury squad. "But this side is young and enthusiastic and they really want to compete." When he took over at Manly, Hasler required three seasons to rebuild the team from a shambles to semi-finalists; and he didn't miss the finals there for the rest of his coaching tenure. But Hasler doesn't expect it to take anywhere near as long to reach the top in blue and white. "Financially and resource wise they are (in a better position than Manly were in 2002)," Hasler said. It hasn't taken long for Hasler to stamp his authority on the squad, nominating NSW Origin hooker Michael Ennis as his captain, while pushing the team through a gruelling pre-season regime. The club lost plenty of experience with the retirement of skipper Andrew Ryan, and lots of attacking flair when Gold Coast Titans poached centre Jamal Idris, but Hasler is confident the team has the right players to make Ennis's transition into the job as easy as possible. "I think having the extra responsibility will add to Michael's game," Hasler said. "In saying that, he's got plenty of good senior players around him with experience, they're very tight and they work well together." Hasler-led teams invariably rely on mistake-free football behind a physical pack. That's been a trait of Bulldogs forwards since the "Dogs of War" bashed their way to four premierships in the 1980s, and Hasler is unlikely to veer too far from that formula with a core of Aiden Tolman, Frank Pritchard, Greg Eastwood and English import James Graham. "As a forward pack, they've just got to utilise their strengths and what they do well," Hasler said. "Graham is diligent and professional about how he goes about his training every day." "He's prepared to work really hard. With a player who boasts the prerequisites, he should do well." "He's going to have a real impact." Hasler is also excited about working with dynamic fullback Ben Barba, one of the shining lights for the Bulldogs in 2011, as he topped the try-scoring list with 23 four-pointers. "He's that little x-factor that every side needs," Hasler said. http://www.foxsports.com.au/league/nrl-premiership/manly-sea-eagles-the-benchmark-nrl-team-says-new-canterbury-bankstown-bulldogs-coach-des-hasler/story-fn2mcuj6-1226269974340 I love how he flat out says we have far better players, wonder what the dog player think of that?