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Panthers Phil Gould interviewed by Buzz

NrlPortal

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GUS Gould is showing absolutely no concern about the losses of outstanding local juniors Matt Moylan and Bryce Cartwright at the Penrith Panthers.

“I’m proud of our club for showing the maturity and strength to release them,” he says.

Gould also insists that speculation coach Anthony Griffin has lost connection with the playing group is “ridiculous”.

Over the weekend he agreed to answer my questions by email about the Panthers losing their boom local juniors and other issues at the club.

BUZZ: It’s been a tough off-season, losing two great local juniors, Moylan and Cartwright. You must be disappointed?

GUS: My major disappointment is that these boys didn’t take full advantage of the wonderful opportunity this club gave to both of them. But that’s life. We live and learn. I’m proud of our club for showing the maturity and strength to release them. Hopefully they learn from this experience and make the most of the remainder of their careers. I expect both of them to do well for their new clubs. They can start again with a clean slate at a new club and put things right. That’s usually what happens. I will follow their careers with great interest and I will be cheering for them to do well.

MORE WHAT’S THE BUZZ: Knights swoop to recruit Sharks young gun



Phil “Buzz" Rothfield has grilled Phil "Gus" Gould on issues at the Panthers. File photo
BUZZ: What about Tyrone Peachey? Is it true he wants an early exit from his contract too?

GUS: Tyrone is considering a strong offer from the Gold Coast Titans for season 2019 and beyond. He hasn’t made a final decision. We certainly can’t match that money and it would be selfish of us to deny him such an opportunity if that’s what he chooses to do. We love Tyrone and he loves being at Panthers. But we can’t keep them all.

BUZZ: You’ve released a lot of good players — Jennings, Lewis, Idris, Cartwright, Moylan, Gordon, Austin, James Roberts, Hiku, Segeyaro. Leilani Latu, Koroisau. There’s some talent there. In hindsight, would or should you have tried harder to keep them?

GUS: The list is bigger than that. Behind every player we release, there is a story and a reason. Every decision is carefully considered. During this time we have also developed players like Reagan Campbell-Gillard, Yeo, Corey Harawira-Naera, James Fisher-Harris, Sione Katoa, Nathan Cleary, Tyrone May, Moses Leota, Waqa Blake, Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, Dylan Edwards.


Matt Moylan left Penrith to join Cronulla. Picture: Brett Costello



Bryce Cartwright quit the Panthers to link with the Titans.

That compares favourably with any club in the NRL you’d like to name. These players, along with the likes of Cartwright and Moylan, got their opportunities because we released players. It helped advance their development and manage our salary cap.

Sam McKendry and Peter Wallace are Panther kids as well. Josh Mansour, Dean Whare, Leilani Latu, Tyrone Peachey, Viliame Kikau, came to our club as second-tier players looking for opportunity to play NRL. They have made their name at Panthers and are all now representative class players.

We have another dozen or so youngsters who I believe are good enough to debut in the NRL in the next year or two. You look only at who we release. You conveniently ignore the number of great kids we have developed.


Panthers coach Anthony Griffin has the support of Phil Gould.

BUZZ: A lot of people are pointing the finger at coach Anthony Griffin. That he lacks a connection with the players. What are your thoughts on this?

GUS: What people? Bring me one person who says that and is prepared to put their name to it. You make ridiculous statements like that without any substance to back it up.

BUZZ: Rather than extend Griffin last year, you weren’t tempted to give Garth Brennan a crack as head coach? He seems to have a great relationship with the players and can obviously coach.

GUS: I’ve always wanted this club to have an experienced NRL head coach in charge of our development programs. It’s why I appointed Ivan Cleary instead of a rookie when I first arrived. Ivan did a wonderful job. It’s why I appointed Anthony Griffin to follow on.

Anthony Griffin has been at the Panthers for two years. We have played finals football in both seasons despite having one of the youngest and least experienced rosters in the NRL. During this time he has introduced a number of young players to the NRL level and these players will continue to grow and improve under his coaching.

Both Garth Brennan and Trent Barrett were wonderful assistant coaches in our club. We actively promoted them to secure NRL head coach jobs at their current clubs.



Penrith young gun Nathan Cleary. Picture: Brett Costello

BUZZ: What about Nathan Cleary? Can you keep him long term? I think he’d like to be at the same club as his father.

GUS: Nathan is developing nicely. He’s a very level-headed young man and he takes all this media attention in his stride. He is not worried about money or future contracts. He is just loving the challenge of training to become a better player. I just want him to enjoy his football and keep developing. Ivan first brought Nathan to our halfback academy as a 14 year old and he has been in our club ever since.

He has come through the development system here with all these other players and they are all great mates. No doubt his dad will always be his best mate and his greatest mentor. I think it’s a wonderful story. But right at the moment, he is a Panther for the next two seasons and we are lucky to have him.

BUZZ: You’re in a very powerful position Gus. Do you take full responsibility for hiring, firing and the fact the team hasn’t quite achieved what you might have expected in 2011? I understand and respect you saved the club through the James Packer loan, corporate relationships and government connections. But wouldn’t your fans now like to see more on-field success?

GUS: We’ve achieved far more than I could’ve hoped for when I first arrived here back in 2011. Our club is developing nicely. We have played finals football in three of the last four seasons. That’s been a terrific result. What is more exciting is that our best is still in front of us. A lot of people have worked hard to make this happen. I don’t take credit for any of it. But if you want to blame someone for something, blame me. I always take full responsibility.



Phil Gould says the Panthers are developing nicely. Picture: Brett Costello

BUZZ: Do you answer or report to anyone?

GUS: I report to the Panthers Board and to my wife. Who do you report to?

BUZZ: I report to my editors. How will the Panthers go this year? Top four, top eight, premiership?

GUS: We will be very competitive. But it doesn’t matter what I think. It only matters what our players believe.

BUZZ: Maloney is a big signing and I guess you want to see a bit more from Merrin this year?

GUS: Jim Maloney is a real pro. He’s only been training here for a month but he’s already proven to be a very valuable acquisition. I’m actually seeing less of Trent Merrin this year. He’s trained down to 102kg and is moving terrific. I love him as a player.

BUZZ: How long will you stay in this job? Would you walk away if they don’t make the eight this year?

GUS: Will you walk away from journalism if we do?

BUZZ: No. What’s the big picture looking like? I see your membership is up 43 per cent on last year. Amazing.

GUS: Our club is doing really well on all levels. Brian Fletcher and the Panthers group board have done an outstanding job ensuring the financial sustainability of this club. It’s been a tremendous turnaround and there are some big things happening. It will be an exciting time for the club.

BUZZ: Rugby league in general? Are you happy with the state of the game?

GUS: The game is great. The coaches and players have never been better. Just don’t start me on the other matters.

BUZZ: And just on another matter. Have you been invited to John Grant’s $30,000 farewell? If so, are you going?

GUS: I told you not to start me on other matters.
 

Wagster

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#2
why is Anthony griffin so hated !! I want the details surfaced ASAP lol. Let’s just see how their season goes to see if the club has any dramas