Gould: Why Penrith felt Griffin had to go

Penrith Panthers boss Phil Gould has revealed he did not believe Anthony Griffin's "old-school" coaching methods could take the club to premiership success as he explained why the coach has been released, effective immediately.

Gould said Griffin was not collaborative enough in his coaching and that his position became untenable once it was decided the club would be looking elsewhere for a coach in 2019.

Speaking to the media on Tuesday morning Gould revealed the club had received 12 applications for coaching positions overnight, but that he had "a preferred choice" to be Griffin's long-term replacement.

Cameron Ciraldo will finish the season as the team's caretaker coach.

"It was a difficult decision but a big one. We decided last week we were going to take change in coaching philosophy going forward next year," Gould said.

"I said if we're going to do that we've got to tell the coach straight away and have a talk to him about it.

"There was a number of things we spoke about during the year that weren't improving. We just got the feeling that everything Anthony has brought to the club over the last three years we've probably seen the best of it.

"With a young group that we want to develop further we felt we needed a change in coaching philosophy moving forward."

Anthony Griffin.
Anthony Griffin. ©NRL Photos

"We've had a number of meetings and talks in the last 12 months. It's not a recent thing. I think the pressure from the media and constant speculation was eating away at him. It's a pressure job as it is coaching NRL football.

"We were mindful of that. I really like Anthony, he's a great bloke, they're a beautiful family. This is difficult, this is what he really loves to do.

"Sometimes things just aren't working out and we need to look out for the club. The club always comes first, it's bigger than me and that's what we decided as a group that next year we have a change in coaching philosophy.

"To be fair to him we wanted to let him know straight away and sometimes when you make that decision the best thing is to part companies straight away.

"People can come up with a lot of reasons why we shouldn't come up with this decision.

"But we did, and we did because we had strong reasons to. It's what's in the best long-term interests of the club."

Gould said Griffin's "old-school" approach wasn't getting the best out of the team.

"Anthony is very old-school, he likes to do everything himself. I think in the modern day age the head coach has got to rely on the expertise, knowledge and assistance," he said. "Anthony wanted to have a more hands on and control everything.

"It's a pressure job anyway, we just felt we needed more collaborative and communicative approach to NRL football.

"It's probably something we've been managing for 12 months anyway, and we keep trying to offer assistance to him as we could, but he was in his own way determined to do things his way.

"It's the old-school way, it's the way I used to coach back in the day. We had a number of discussions and I would say you really need to delegate and have people help you with these things, you can't be doing it all yourself because then things go overlooked."

Gould denied the decision was made with an eye on locking up young players like to new contracts, and said it was the right move despite the fact the club is bound for the finals this season. 

"It had nothing to do with recruitment or anything like that," he said.

"At the end of the day internally we have our own reviews regularly, we review things on a weekly basis. I know we are sitting in equal fourth on the ladder but sometimes winning masks other things that are wrong internally at the club and as a team.

"We haven't been playing well at the moment even though we've won a couple of games."

Gould would not be drawn on speculation the club could approach Wests Tigers coach Ivan Cleary, former Penrith mentor and father of star Panthers halfback Nathan, to return to the club.

"We haven't made a decision on who will coach the side next year. We've already had 12 applications come in overnight from people within the game – either assistant coaches, head coaches from other clubs.

"I think we'd be a popular choice for a coach looking for a strong club with a good roster and great facilities.

"I don't think we'll have any trouble finding a coach but we just need to look after the short-term at the moment.

"We have a preferred choice at this stage but that's not to mean they'll be the one we end up with."

As revealed by NRL.com on Monday afternoon, the Panthers notified Griffin earlier in the day 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, which meant Ciraldo was promoted from assistant to caretaker coach for the rest of the season.

Gould told Channel Nine's 100% Footy the club had gauged the mood of the team and off-field staff before making the decision.

"There will be some more clarity to the spontaneity of this in the coming weeks," Gould said.

"We do have someone in mind and we are still waiting for an answer on that but we didn't want to go down the path of sourcing a new coach behind Anthony's back without him knowing what was happening.

"At all times we look at the best interests of the club.

"Cameron Ciraldo and the rest of the coaching staff at Panthers, I've got full confidence in them to lead us in the run home into the finals."

Gould believes the Panthers are on the verge of premiership success but did not think Griffin would be able to take them to the next level.