Sacked Panthers coach Anthony Griffin has answered his critics in an interview on NRL 360. Picture: Dave Hunt/AAP
Sacked Panthers coach Anthony Griffin has answered his critics in an interview on NRL 360. Picture: Dave Hunt/AAP

Cut down by Gus, Griffin delivers his own reference

I AM constantly amazed at the number of people who just can't cop Gus Gould. Can't stand a bar of him as a commentator or as a bloke - mostly, might I add, by those who have never met him.

To me though, he is possibly the smartest mind in the game. Had the NRL accepted his recent offer to "fix" the current refereeing dilemma, I reckon he could well have solved it by now.

And there is no denying he was a brilliant coach. He went straight from playing to coaching and within five seasons had won two premierships with different clubs. He is also the most successful NSW Origin coach.

I enjoy his commentar, too, although the banter between him and Ray Warren of late has been a tad irritating. But when it comes to dissecting a game, few do it better than Gus.

As a boss though, he is apparently one tough cookie, as Anthony Griffin has discovered this week. Griffin was the third coach sent packing since Gus took over as GM of football at the Panthers seven years ago.

While that may not be unusual in this swim-or-sink age, being shown the door by Gus is not exactly a blue-chip endorsement.

Matt Elliot has not coached again since departing Penrith at the end of 2011 and Ivan Cleary was two years out of as job before joining the struggling Tigers last year.

Panthers general manager of Phil Gould divides opinion. Picture: Mick Tsikas/AAP
Panthers general manager of Phil Gould divides opinion. Picture: Mick Tsikas/AAP

As I can recall, neither Elliott nor Cleary was harshly criticised by Gus when they departed. The reasoning behind the dumping of Cleary was that the club had done a review and "a change was needed". Gould believed Cleary was "tired".

A recent, similar review found that Griffin, who had taken the Panthers to the finals three years in succession, could take them no further. Apparently, they could not win a premiership under the former Broncos coach.

And that is fair enough. It is the prerogative of the Panthers to make changes the club - or Gus - sees fit. After all, the NRL these days is a big, big - sometimes bad - world. It is a business, not a sport, and there can be no place for sentimentality.

But by his virtual execution of Griffin as a coach, via comments of him being old-school, controlling, non-collaborative and non-communicative, Gus has hardly handed the man a glowing reference. And unlike Elliott and Cleary before him, that could hurt Griffin when future employment in the game is concerned, particularly at the top level.

There is, however, light at the end of the tunnel for Griffin, and its comes from the TV network for which Gus does not work.

Any footy club, in this country or in England, looking for a fair dinkum, down-to-earth, no headline-seeking coach, should view the brilliant edition of NRL 360 that appeared on Fox on Wednesday night.

That tells all about Anthony Griffin.

He may be no super media performer or Mr Personality, but he's honest and - as his record at Penrith endorses - can actually coach.


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