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Canterbury coach Des Hasler has defended the club's decision to make their players unavailable for next week's NSW City-Country clash, claiming to prioritise player welfare.
The Bulldogs have copped plenty of heat this week after withdrawing their players from the annual fixture because of their short turnaround into the round 10 game in Townsville.
Hasler revealed he had reached out to the NRL, the NSWRL, as well as the players union, who all understood his reasons for pulling his men out of consideration.
"You would've thought maybe a game for the following Thursday could've been a Queensland versus Queensland or maybe even a Queensland versus Warriors," Hasler said on Friday.
"And our line was, three-day turnaround, player welfare.
"I spoke to the NSWRL. They said, 'yep, look we understand but our hands are tied to do with scheduling, so we fully respect and understand standing players down.
"I spoke to the RLPA along the lines of welfare, they said they understood. They left it up to us.
"Going forward, and after some more deliberation, I spoke to Laurie Daley earlier in the week and again it comes down to the player."
Hasler's comments come after Canberra counterpart Ricky Stuart vowed to protect his players from what he claimed was an exhibition match after being in a similar position last year.
Hasler softened his stance on the issue on Friday, saying he was open to letting some players participate in Mudgee - but not proven NSW State of Origin stars such as Josh Jackson.
Jackson this week spoke of his disappointment at being forced to accept the club's rule.
"I spoke to (NSW coach Laurie Daley) and for Canterbury players, it'll be a case by case scenario. If they want to pick Canterbury players, they can," Hasler said.
"For some players, getting as far as City-Country might be as far as they get. So you don't want to exclude those players' dreams and you certainly don't want to trample their dreams."
But while Hasler was reluctant to release players for the City-Country game, he had no issue with allowing his stars to play in Origin II despite a two-day turnaround into a round 16 match.
The Bulldogs face the Warriors in Auckland just two days after the Origin game in Sydney.
"Different spectacle, different game, different players," he said.