Des Hasler was once worshipped by the very fans he expects to abuse him when he returns to Brookvale Oval on Friday night - but he wouldn't have it any other way.
There's sure to be mixed reactions from the Sea Eagles faithful when Hasler completes the short trip from his northern beaches home to ''Fortress Brookie'' on Friday night.
Many of the club's fans expressed their dislike towards the Canterbury coach on the Sea Eagles' Silvertails forum last night, reacting to claims from Hasler, who said: ''I'm sure if I turned up to their place on a Sunday afternoon for a barbie, they wouldn't turn me away.''
One disgruntled fan said Hasler ''wouldn't get in my front door, the piece of crap'', while another admitted he would let him in, but not before ''we would have to have an old fashioned punch up just to take out some of my anger towards him!''.
Although, the two-time premiership-winning coach isn't fazed by the idea of going face-to-face with his former admirers turned haters.
In fact, he's welcomed the hostility, admitting it only added to the theatre of what arguably is the biggest game of the season to date. ''It'd be great,'' Hasler said. ''That's what it's all about. It's passion, it's the tribalism ... That's what it's all about - the emotion. It's what you want.''
Asked about the reaction he expected to receive from ''the little old ladies'' that once adored him, Hasler said: ''They love me, the little old ladies, they should be OK''.
According to Hasler, ''it's just another day'', and in typical Dessie fashion, he talked up the Sea Eagles. While he's renowned for flattering his opposition, there's no doubt he would've taken great pride and satisfaction with yesterday's endorsement of his former team.
He stood by his claims from last Friday night when he declared the Sea Eagles the benchmark of the competition, despite a shock loss to Newcastle on the weekend. And even with his side on top of the ladder alongside Melbourne, Hasler refused to pump up the tyres of the Bulldogs.
''There are sides there, like the Manly side, the Melbourne side, the Broncos side - we're at the bottom end of the yard stick there,'' he said.
''We're the new boys on the block. We just want to see where we're at. You've got to earn that right [to be the benchmark] like Manly and Melbourne. The Manly side undoubtedly would have to be the best side in the modern era for the last five years, them and Melbourne.''
Hasler said the Knights didn't do his side any favours by upsetting the reigning champions last Saturday night, and expects Manly to come out desperate to avenge the disappointment. The Sea Eagles are in seventh position on the ladder and could drop to the edge of the top eight with a loss on Friday night.
While the Bulldogs can move closer to winning the minor premiership, Hasler believes such talk is premature, treating the match as an opportunity for his inexperienced side to learn how to handle the pressure-cooker matches. ''It's an opportunity for us, for this young Bulldogs side, to really get a taste of grind football.''
- Sydney Morning Herald