The Penrith Panthers could be looking for a replacement for coach Anthony Griffin, despite being in finals contention for 2018, according to James Hooper.
Hooper told Fox League’s Big League Wrap the team from the west could offload Griffin in favour for Trent Barrett and John Cartwright.
If this talk indeed becomes reality, Griffin could find himself coaching in the English Super League or elsewhere in 2019.
Griffin has been at Penrith for three years which has seen him coach 68 games with 40 wins at a winning rate of 58.8%.
Hooper said the noise surrounding the coaching position at Penrith continues to grow.
“The noise won’t go away at the moment, that perhaps Anthony Griffin might move on at the end of the season and he could end up coaching over in the Super League or somewhere else,” Hooper said.
“That would mean that perhaps the door opens for Trent Barrett and John Cartwright, who won a premiership at the Panthers many years ago when they won their inaugural title, to go back out west and head up this young gun roster.
“It is arguably one of the best lists in the competition.”
With the Panthers being considered finals contenders this season, no decision on the future of their coach will be made before September, but there are fears all the off-field distractions could translate into their on-field performances.
This could’ve been made evident last week if it weren’t for a late comeback win against the Sea Eagles, as the Panthers were looking down the barrel of five loses in their past six games.
It’s no surprise Phil Gould is willing to spice things up, as he has previously replaced a successful coach in Ivan Cleary with Griffin back in 2015.
Hooper reveals nothing is set in stone, but it’s hard to ignore all the speculation.
“This noise has been simmering away in the background for most of the year and I don’t think Saturday’s result would have a bearing on it either way,” Hooper said.
“If it had gone the other way and they lost to Trent Barrett and John Cartwright, then maybe it would have flared up even more so.
“It is just a ‘watch this space’ at this point in time because as we know in rugby league, things can turn on a ten cent piece.”