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Anthony Griffin defends record, hits back at Phil Gould after sacking as Penrith coach


Anthony Griffin holding his chin during a Penrith Panthers media conference. Photo: Ex-Penrith coach Anthony Griffin has spoken out, defending his approach and the relationship he had with players. (AAP: Dave Hunt)

Anthony Griffin has turned the heat on Phil Gould to deliver the premiership he promised Penrith fans six years ago after being sacked by the “jealous” Panthers supremo a month out from the NRL finals.

Griffin made a dignified appearance on Fox Sports’ NRL 360 barely 48 hours after being unceremoniously cut by Gould.

“If I can just say one thing, I really wish the Panthers all the best,” Griffin said in a heartfelt message to his former charges.

“There’s obviously some really good days ahead for that club and for the players and the staff out there, I’d love nothing more than to see them win a trophy this year.

“So, as hard as it would be to watch, I wish them all the best.”

The 51-year-old’s touching tribute to a dressing room that his boss claimed the coach had lost came after Griffin accused Gould of being a control freak who craved to be in charge when Penrith next won the competition.

“The main thing that hurts me the most is that I think they’re on the verge of winning a premiership this year, which is probably one of the reasons I’m not there,” Griffin said.

“Clearly we don’t get on. It’s the main reason I’m sitting in here and not coaching. We don’t get on.

“It wouldn’t be unusual to go a month or six weeks not sitting down and having a chat. We had to operate.

“After we beat Manly I sensed things weren’t right. The silence gets deafening when you’re on the outer.

“I didn’t anticipate it would be Monday. I thought we’d sort it out at the end of the year. [But] I understand the business is brutal.”

Despite Cameron Ciraldo’s appointment as coach for the rest of 2018, Griffin has no doubt Gould will take charge of the finals-bound Panthers in pursuit of title glory.

Phil Gould looks to his left. Photo: According to the man he sacked as coach, Penrith Panthers general manager Phil Gould is a control freak. (AAP: Joel Carrett)

“He just needs to be in control,” Griffin said.

“Gus runs the club — and I say that with all due respect to everyone out there — but he runs the club. He makes all the decisions.

“So now that I’m not there, it’s probably a breath of fresh air from that end [for Gould]. I don’t think there will be too much happening without his input.”

Griffin said Gould’s claim that the coach had lost the dressing room was merely “spin” to justify his sacking to the Panthers board.

“I can handle getting axed but suggestions that I don’t get on with the players is absolute rubbish,” Griffin said, backing up what star playmaker James Maloney said on Tuesday.

“I’ve had a great relationship with the players … I’ve spoken to most of the players on the phone. I’ve had some nice text messages.”

Dubbed by his ex-boss as too “old school” to continue coaching Penrith, Griffin is adamant he did the job Gould head-hunted him to do — and more.

“Whether I’m old school or not, there’s a hell of a lot a head coach has got to do these days to build a club to be able to produce a result every weekend,” Griffin said.

“To be able to manage staff, to care for young players and to be able to build a roster from within, it takes patience and it takes a lot of time.

“When you grow something from the ground up, it takes a lot of care and takes a lot of attention to detail in all areas — strength and conditioning, sports science, skill acquisition.

“They’re young players that are playing first grade for the first time so there’s a lot of welfare that goes on.

“So I’m proud of what I did there.

“If that’s old school, I’ll take old school any day to play a role in a club that’s had so much success in the last three years.”

AAP



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