Panthers part ways with coach Griffin four weeks out from finals
The Penrith Panthers have sacked coach Anthony Griffin just four weeks out from the finals.
As revealed by NRL.com on Monday afternoon, the Panthers notified Griffin on Monday that his services would not be required beyond the end of this season despite being contracted until the end of 2020.
Griffin in turn walked away from the job, leaving assistant coach Cameron Ciraldo as the caretaker coach for the rest of the season.
It's understood Penrith have made the decision to part ways with Griffin because of a belief he would have been unable to take the club to the level required to win a premiership.
In the end, it was the constant speculation about his future that brought about his demise.
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With every rumour, Griffin pushed people away. With every story, he delegated less and less to those he was meant to trust.
It's the main reason why Luke Phillips left the coaching staff mid-season to join the Dragons. It's also the reason the players' opinion of him diminished with each week.
Unfortunately, Griffin's attitude and lack of trust for those around him cost him his job, with the board growing tired of mediocre performances from a football team oozing with talent.
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Make no mistake, the Panthers hierarchy know the club is in a premiership window. Those windows are open for two years. Three, if you're lucky.
While Griffin was contracted until 2020, it became clear that window would shut far sooner if they didn't make changes.
Griffin has one of the best winning percentages of the current coaches in the NRL, however the Panthers are no strangers to making tough decisions.
After Sunday's come-from-behind win against the Canberra Raiders, the board let their frustrations be known. They contacted general manager Phil Gould and brought an end to Griffin's tenure at the foot of the mountains.
Gould met with Griffin on Monday afternoon, informing him there was no longer support for him to coach the club in 2019.
In turn, Griffin saved himself and the club from an ensuing circus and walked away immediately.
From the outside, it looked two come-from-behind wins against Manly and Canberra in the past two weeks may have saved Griffin's job.
Instead, it was a death sentence. To those at the club, there was a belief the slow starts were a result of the coaching strategies in place, and their second-half resurgence was in fact a result of throwing the game plan out the window.
The other point worth making is the future of halfback Nathan Cleary. In just under three months it is expected the Wests Tigers will make him an offer too good to refuse.
An opportunity to earn mega dollars playing under his father Ivan. Now Penrith have a bargaining chip of their own.
Ciraldo and Cleary are extremely close, so too is Cleary's relationship with his Panthers teammates.
Perhaps a happier environment with a clear picture surrounding the club's future may entice Cleary to remain at the club beyond 2019.
Griffin, who took over in controversial circumstances when Gould punted Ivan Cleary at the end of 2015, still had two years running on his contract.
It's understood the Panthers won't have to pay out the final two years of Anthony Griffin's contract and have reached an agreed pay-out.
Panthers group CEO Brian Fletcher issued a statement over Griffin's exit.
"There has been much speculation and rumours about the club and head coach Anthony Griffin over the last few weeks," Fletcher said.
"After discussions with Anthony Griffin it is time to end that speculation. By mutual agreement, the club and Anthony have agreed to part ways, effective immediately.
"Anthony departs the club after much success, having taken the Panthers to the finals in the last two years and leaves the club on track for another finals appearance in 2018.
"We would like to thank Anthony for his service to Panthers and wish him well for the future."