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Penrith coach Ivan Cleary insists there is no bad blood with Phil Gould, claiming he has learned more from the man known as 'Gus' than anybody in his career.

Speaking at a media conference on Thursday morning, Cleary emphatically denied any rift with Gould, who resigned from his position as the club's executive general manager of rugby league on Tuesday.

Despite constant speculation the pair don't get along, Cleary said Gould had been a "huge part of my playing and coaching career".

"There's no falling out, no blow-ups - I've never had a blow-up with Gus in my life," Cleary said.

"I know it seems like a nice narrative but Gus made the decision and I respect that decision.

"I've leaned on Gus throughout my playing career and my coaching career. I spoke to Gus even when he wasn't involved with the club I was in.

How Gould’s Panthers exit unfolded

"Most of coaching principles and foundations - the stuff I believe in - have come from what I learned under him.

"He'll leave a void here and we probably don't even realise what that is just yet, because you can't replace someone like Gus. As a man and as a professional, there's no-one really like him that I've come across.

Cleary was sacked by the Panthers in 2015, spending two years with the Wests Tigers before returning to Penrith at the end of last year.

Asked if there were "dramas" relating to his sacking four years ago, Cleary was adamant that wasn't the case.

"It depends how you define dramas. Obviously when I left here before it was under Gus's governance and it was his call and he thought it was in the best interests of me and the club at the time," he said.

"I didn't agree with it but I respected that and I wouldn't have come back if I couldn't gotten along with him or there was going to be dramas.

"My relationship's fine with Gus. I've known him for 25 years and he's taught me more about rugby league than anybody else and daylight's second."

Cleary said he was "honoured" that Gould said the club was in good hands under Cleary's leadership.

"I take this position and the responsibility very seriously," he said.

"[Gould's departure] was a surprise and it feels a bit surreal, but it's happened and everyone has to get on with it. That'll be to us to navigate through that. I'm really confident in our staff and our players.

Panthers CEO media conference

"I don't feel any added pressure. I understand I'm the leader of the club here and the results will always fall on my shoulders. I know the buck will stop with me."

The Panthers have struggled to click in 2019 with two wins from six games.

They blew a 20-6 lead against Cronulla last week and host the Rabbitohs on Friday night.

"We controlled that game for long periods and they're the hard ones to take when you don't get the points," Cleary said.

"It's a good opportunity this week against a good team and everyone's looking forward to that challenge."

 

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