Dean Pay formally walked out on Canterbury on Tuesday, ending his two-and-a-half-year stint as coach of the NRL club.
Pay departs halfway through the final year of his contract with the Bulldogs rock bottom after nine rounds of the COVID-19 hampered NRL season.
Handed arguably the weakest roster in the NRL when he replaced Des Hasler after the 2017 campaign, Pay has led Canterbury to just 19 wins in 57 matches.
It is understood the former Bulldogs captain informed the playing group of his decision at their Belmore Sports Ground headquarters on Tuesday morning.
"I'd like to thank the Bulldogs for the opportunity to be the head coach at a club that has always meant so much to me," Pay said in a statement.
Assistant coach Steve Georgallis will take the reins as caretaker with Trent Barrett widely considered the frontrunner to succeed Pay long-term.
NSW State of Origin coach Brad Fittler, his Queensland counterpart Kevin Walters and former Penrith coach Anthony Griffin have also been mentioned as options.
Pay's tenure will be remembered as among the leanest in club history, with the club finishing 12th over the past two seasons.
However, his supporters will point to the lack of talent at his disposal, with salary cap issues forcing the exit of a number of star players in his first year.
Aaron Woods and Moses Mbye left the club mid-season in 2018, with David Klemmer, Josh Morris and Brett Morris departing at season's end.
The mass exodus prompted the NRL to ban heavily back-ended contracts.
Kieran Foran, Dylan Napa and Dallin Watene-Zelezniak have been Canterbury's only major signings of note during Pay's reign.
However, Foran's time at Belmore has been married by injury.
Pay's exit comes as the Bulldogs begin to emerge from their cap issues, with England international Luke Thompson only making his NRL debut last week.
Canterbury chief executive Andrew Hill said it was particularly tough to see Pay depart given his extensive links to the club.
The 51-year-old Pay spent seven of his 11 playing years in the blue-and-white, including their premiership triumph in 1995, prior to joining Parramatta.
"These decisions are always tough, particularly when they involve someone who has been part of the Bulldogs family for a long time," Hill said.
"The fact is though that the club and Dean have decided that we needed to move in a different direction to take the team forward and Dean was in agreement that now was the right time for both parties to part ways."
DEAN PAY'S NRL COACHING CAREER AT CANTERBURY (2018-2020)
57 games - 19 wins, 38 losses
2018: Finished 12th (13th in attack, 9th in defence)
2019: Finished 12th (last in attack, 9th in defence)
2020: Last after nine rounds (last in attack, 11th in defence)
Australian Associated Press