“I’ve spoken to Gus and he feels his job has become redundant, that the job has been done,” Bryan Fletcher (SMH).
The colourful Gus Gould era has ended in the golden west.
It was ten rounds into the NRL premiership in 2011 when Gould returned to the club. This saw early changes where CEO Mick Leary and coach Matthew Elliott parted ways.
The appointment of Ivan Cleary as head coach sparked major player change with local juniors such as Michael Jennings, Luke Lewis, Wade Graham, Lachlan Coote and Blake Austin leaving. Lewis Brown, James Segeyaro and Dean Whare would be some of the new names to join the club during that period. In Cleary’s first tenure at Penrith the club would make the finals series once in four seasons. Famously Gould felt that Cleary was “tired” and moved quickly to recruit Anthony Griffin who was set to coach Redcliffe Dolphins in the Intrust Super Cup in 2016.
Success on the field came under Griffin’s tenure with Penrith making the finals series for the following three seasons before bowing out in week 2 of the finals series on each occasion. It came at a cost with Matt Moylan’s fallout with Griffin seeing him dropped to NSW Cup, and at the end of 2017 departing for the Shire. The infamous blow-up played out at Belmore between Griffin in Gould at the during the 2018 pre-season was the start of the end of the former Broncos coach tenure at the club.
However, it presented an opportunity to re-unit Ivan with his son, Nathan, in 2019 and allowed the re-signing of the New South Wales halfback. On-field results have below expectations with the Panthers recording only two wins from six matches.
After weeks of on and off speculation, Gould has left the club.
Gould’s tenure at Penrith saved the club from possible financial ruin and helped the club recruit some high profile players. The Panthers Rugby League Academy is a huge legacy, a wonderful complex which other NRL clubs have mirrored. There was vast improvement in Junior representative and NSW Cup sides which saw the trophy cabinet grow.
One thing which will haunt him will be that the club which he coached to their inaugural title in 1991 couldn’t win another during his time as an administrator. There were some bizarre moments as well. One was the appointment of 31-year-old Corey Payne as CEO and his tenure lasting four months.
Whether you loved him or hated him – Phil Gould turned around the struggling Penrith Panthers.