Panthers burnt Cleary out: Gould
Penrith Panthers executive general manager Phil Gould feels the club is responsible for burning out outgoing coach Ivan Cleary.
Speaking after announcing Anthony Griffin as the Panthers' new coach on a three-year deal, Gould said the club's mounting injury toll over the past two seasons increased the pressure on the coaching staff.
"Challenges and people put under pressure, you see people in a different light and it exposes people. I'm not just talking about staff, I'm talking about players too and we learnt a lot this season," Gould said.
"If you have a year like that and don't learn something then you shouldn't be in this business. You're wasting your time being here. So it's the beginning of a new era for us.
"And to be honest I think we burned [Ivan] out. That's my opinion. With all my experience, all my heart and all my gut I believe it was the right thing for Ivan and for us at this time."
One man who can relate to Cleary's sacking is the man who is replacing him.
Bumped out of the Broncos to make way for Wayne Bennett's return to Brisbane this season, Griffin has spent a year on the sideline looking to scratch and claw his way back into the NRL coaching ranks.
What impressed Gould most amongst Griffin's credentials for Penrith's head coach role however was his ability to build pathways for Brisbane's young players – pointing out that the Broncos' 2015 grand final team contained 16 players who'd come through the club's system.
"I was gutted at the time," Griffin said of his exit from Brisbane.
"I spent seven years there and I still am close friends with a lot of people there. I soon realised that I wanted to get back into coaching so it's been a long year from that point of view.
"It certainly didn't deter me from the challenge of competing at the highest level but on the other hand, although it hurt, I realised it was one chapter on my career that had closed and I was looking for the next up until a couple of days ago.
"It is a tough business, there are only 16 jobs and in my own mind I certainly wasn't finished when I finished with the Broncos, that was the important thing.
"I left the Broncos in a better place than I found them. Good luck to them, I have never said anything against about the place and I have never felt wronged. I just did my job."
Of his new club, Griffin said his year away from the NRL may prove beneficial as he'll return to work with a clear mind – at a club that went from a preliminary final to fighting to avoid the wooden spoon in less than a year.
"I had the chance to sit back with a clear mind and have a look at the game. With [Peter] Wallace and [Jamie] Soward there's some experience here but the thing which stands out most is the group of talented young players here who are starting to evolve," Griffin said.
"As far as where we go next year I couldn't tell you, I've been a Panther for five minutes. My first role will be to chat to the players and the staff and start building on what has been done here and putting my own stamp on it."