PANTHERS GM Phil Gould has fired back at former coach Anthony Griffin in an explosive interview, claiming Griffin should not have vented his anger after his dismissal.
Griffin spoke on NRL 360 on Wednesday night about Gould’s need for control at Penrith, the shambolic state the Panthers were in before he arrived and why he was sacked just a month out from the finals.
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Twenty four hours later, Gould has responded in kind on The Footy Show, slamming Griffin’s inability to delegate, his claims on the state of the club and why he felt Griffin had to go.
But Gould saved most of his words to criticise Griffin for speaking at all, saying he shouldn’t have let rip when the wounds were still so fresh.
Gould also revealed:
* New interim coach Cameron Ciraldo attempted to resign twice due to his relationship with Griffin, only to be talked out of it by Gould.
* The roots of Griffin’s dismissal were planted following the 50-18 loss to Brisbane.
* Gould believed Penrith could not win the premiership under Griffin
“THAT’S DISRESPECTFUL IN THE HIGHEST”
“My thoughts were that he shouldn’t have done it, that he was badly advised to go and do it and particularly in the environment in which he did it,” Gould said.
“I don’t think he’s done himself any favours with that interview given the reaction I’ve had from our staff, former staff, staff that left our club because of Anthony and people who have worked in and around our club before Anthony arrived and since he arrived.
“I’m not going to sit here and judge Anthony Giriffin for the world to see. I’m not going to reply or respond because he said negative things about me or the club.
“I will defend our club in the respect that where Panthers sits today, where it was seven years ago and where it is today, is a product of the expertise and hard work of many people in our organisation.
“To try and either take credit for that or denigrate it and say it was a shambles before he arrived is highly disrespectful and it’s just totally wrong.
“That’s disrespectful in the highest.
“He’s said I’ve been sitting on my arse and done nothing for seven years out at Penrith, that’s what it says.”
“THERE WOULDN’T HAVE BEEN A PREMIERSHIP THE WAY HE WAS COACHING”
Gould also disregarded Griffin’s claims that Penrith could have won the title this year, which Griffin claimed was partly behind his sacking.
“They wouldn’t have won a premiership the way he was coaching.
“A lot of my disagreements with Anthony was because I had to try and convince him we were trying to help him, not trying to hurt him.
“And he felt he was being undermined, which was the opposite of what we were trying to do. We were trying to help him.
“He had deficiencies , to be brutally honest, and as a club we were trying to work through them and as a club we were trying to work through them.
“I run the club, and I made some big decisions about Anthony Griffin. I employed him in the first place.
“I extended his contract. We protected him in the media, we stood up for him in the media, we’ve tried to help him in a football sense right across the board, to help his style of coaching and to help him through and I had full intentions of him seeing our his contract.”
“IT’S NOT THE WAY I WOULD HAVE HANDLED IT”
It was made clear that the roots of Griffin’s sacking we planted following the 50-18 smashing the Panthers suffered at the hands of Brisbane last month.
“I think it got to the point where the players — I interviewed them personally, myself, as a group after the debacle up in Brisbane, where the coach had taken them on a three day camp on the Gold Coast, completely cut out all assistant staff, management, wanted to run the whole thing his way and they were beaten 50-18.
“The players came back very confused, because when things were going good Cameron Ciraldo was doing a lot of the information, a lot of the work. Peter Wallace was doing a lot of the work. They were completely cut out of the equation over the last five or six weeks.
“At that time, after that Brisbane review, again, the senior management said ‘this is untenable, he’s got to go’ and again, I stuck up for him and said ‘leave it to me, I will manage the situation, we will get through to the end of the season’.
: That was always my intention. What happened this week was the Cleary thing. And I thought, well we have to tell him that he’s not going to be here this year.
“If you’ve made your decision, that’s what we have to do.
“It’s not the way I would have handled it. But that’s what happened this week.”
“HE DID COME TO ME AND RESIGN TWICE”
Gould threw his support behind interim coach Cameron Ciraldo and revealed the newly minted mentor attempted to resign twice under Griffin — only for Gould to talk him into staying.
“I’ll always be there for them. I wouldn’t throw them under the bus, these boys. It’s a difficult task for Cameron and Peter Wallace.
“I have utmost respect and confidence in Cameron Ciraldo. He’s been a wonderful ally for Anthony Griffin.
“He has assisted that man loyally and without question.
“He did come to me and resign twice for the way he was treated by the head coach.
“Twice I talked him into staying. I’ll just put that out there so everyone knows there’s very much two sides to this story.”
“I UNDERSTAND THE WESTS TIGERS BEING UPSET”
There were no questions of Ivan Cleary and little discussion of the Tigers coach, who has been courted by the Panthers and has come under heavy scrutiny in recent weeks, but Gould did say he understood the feelings of the disgruntled Tigers fans and officials.
Gould claimed that much of the vitriol in the media was from those with a personal agenda against him.
“I don’t care about that. I understand the Wests Tigers being upset, I understand the fans, I understand the vitriol.
“I can understand people forming their opinion on the media and the way it’s translated in the media because there are people in the media that have an agenda against me, that have an agenda against the club — either the fact that I work at Panthers or the fact that I work with Channel 9.
“That’s the forum he walked straight into to get his point across or whatever he wanted to do, vent his anger.
“I’ve lived with that for a lot of my career, so it’s water off a duck’s back. But it’s not fair when it’s aimed at the club, and trying to destabilise the club, and particularly when it’s disrespectful to staff out there that have been extremely loyal to him, that have protected him and stood up for him in this period.”