Canterbury football manager Phil Gould said a phone call when Trent Barrett "poured his heart out" led to the Bulldogs coach stepping down on Monday.
A 16-6 loss to Newcastle on Friday night at Suncorp Stadium in the Magic Round opener proved the final straw for Bulldogs officials, who spent the weekend discussing Barrett's future.
Barrett took the decision out of the board's hands, stepping down from the role effective immediately on Monday morning.
The Bulldogs are bottom of the NRL ladder and are averaging fewer than 10 points per game this season.
Gould and Barrett spent time together on the Gold Coast on Saturday before the coach picked up the phone the following day and said he could no longer continue in the role.
"I wasn't going to sack him," Gould said on Monday.\
"I think the performances and pressure, he just got the feeling that he probably didn't have the solutions to what was going wrong.
"It was a very difficult discussion, it was very raw and he poured his heart out.
"He put his heart into this job and he wanted to end the speculation on the board to make any decision and he made the decision."
Barrett leaves Belmore having won just five of 34 matches in charge, despite an expensive recruitment drive that has included the additions of Josh Addo-Carr, Matt Burton, Tevita Pangai, Matt Dufty and Paul Vaughan.
Many players weren't at training on Monday with Gould informing them of Barrett's decision via text.
"We've got a huge flu going through the place and a number of players are unavailable to be here," he said. "Many of them have since phoned me.
"We'll call tomorrow's training off and we'll resume again on Wednesday with a short turnaround into the Friday night game (against the Wests Tigers)."
Gould said he wouldn't be stepping into the role and explained one of the club's existing coaches would take charge against the Tigers.
Former Canberra coach David Furner has been working as Barrett's assistant and Mick Potter is the club's NSW Cup coach.
Beyond that Gould said the picture was unclear.
The Dogs could recruit an unattached coach immediately or stick with an internal hire until the end of the season.
Shane Flanagan, whose son Kyle is on the Bulldogs' books, and former North Queensland coach Paul Green are both free agents.
Penrith assistant coach Cameron Ciraldo is the most likely candidate but the Panthers will put up a fight to prevent him leaving mid-season.