During his eight-year tenure at the Penrith Panthers, Phil ‘Gus’ Gould has proven himself to be the most dishonest man in the history of this great game we call rugby league. Gould has found himself in the headlines once again after it was announced overnight that Anthony Griffin had been sacked as head coach of the Penrith outfit with just four matches to be played before finals football arrives.
The most peculiar part about this situation however is the fact that Griffin currently has the Panthers sitting fifth on the ladder with 13 wins from 20 starts this season. With a top four berth on the cards and with a 60 percent win rate since joining the club in 2016, just why oh why was Griffin ‘hooked’ so close to finals time?
It was just last month when Phil Gould told audiences on Channel Nine’s flagship rugby league program – 100 percent footy – that coach Anthony Griffin’s job was safe until at least the end of the 2020 NRL season. Griffin had originally put pen to paper on a three-year extension last October.
Gould slammed the media reports at the time that claimed Griffin was subjected to an internal review during Origin II weekend.
“It’s totally incorrect, it’s another example of a journalist taking a titbit of information and trying to connect the dots to gain his own information. It’s totally wrong and totally misleading. Griffin will remain with the club until 2020.”
With these comments, Gould doesn’t just prove himself to be a liar, but he disrespects the game, the fans, the Penrith club and obviously the journalists who run these stories – which are shot down by Gould at the time of print – but are later proven to be factual, leaving Gould with proverbial mud on his face.
It’s not the first time in the past 12 months Gould has lied to the media, Penrith members and fans of the sport. Just last September, Gould held a press conference as he promised Matt Moylan would be remaining at Penrith amidst rumours he was unhappy and wanting to leave. Come November, Moylan had officially put pen to paper with the Cronulla Sharks.
In 2016, Corey Payne sensationally quit his role as Chief Executive of the Penrith club amidst a reported feud with Gould. Gould would later debunk these claims by stating “Payne resigned to study overseas. The two weeks (he spent) in China wet his appetite, I always wondered if this job was big enough for him.”
Ultimately these claims were proven untrue as Payne was hired by Woolworths Group as Store Operations Executive shortly after his resignation.
Gould has even lied about his own standing in the game. On January 17, 2015, Gould revealed he was planning to step down from his current role.
“My aim is to get to a point where my job becomes redundant and the club moves on, and we’re getting close to that”.
Two months later, he re-signed with the club on a long-term deal.
In 2013, Gould denied a falling out with star centre Michael Jennings had exploded prior to the representative back being granted a release to join the Sydney Roosters on a big money contract. Jennings would go on to win a premiership with Easts that very season.
It was also just a year prior that Gould lost club legend Luke Lewis under similar circumstances with the veteran utility forward going on to win a premiership with Cronulla in 2016.
Upon his arrival in Penrith, Gould promised Petero Civoniceva, perhaps at the time the greatest forward of the modern era, that he’d have a job for life at the club. Just three short months later, he was playing out the remainder of his career at the Brisbane Broncos and hasn’t stepped foot back at the foot of the mountains since.
And as he continues to move on key pieces, Penrith Panthers supporters continue to grow more and more restless. In an unstable working environment, the 60-year-old’s five-year plan (which was put into place eight years ago) has unravelled. Since Gould has arrived at the club, a total number of 95 roster changes has occurred – the most in the league.
At some point, surely, you’ve got to stop building and start consolidating?
Not including these 95 players is the fact that Gould has also gone through five coaches in his time at the club (equal first with the New Zealand Warriors over this period). Will coach number six even be game enough to step foot into a club run by such an obsessive man such as Gould?
Of these 95 roster changes aforementioned, over 20 players whom have left the club over this period have done so having been released early from their contracts including: Luke Lewis, Petero Civoniceva, Elijah Taylor, James Segeyaro, Matt Moylan, James Roberts, Te Maire Martin, Jamie Soward, Peta Hiku, Jamal Idris, Michael Jennings, Lachlan Coote, Bryce Cartwright, Leilani Latu, Mitch Rein and Michael Gordon.
Of these players; Coote, Martin, Roberts and Lewis have gone on to play in or win a grand final. Not to mention two coaches have also been released under contract early by Gould with Ivan Cleary parting ways with the club in October 2015 just a month before the club was set to return to pre-season training and just a year prior to being crowned Dally M coach of the year.
And now it’s Anthony Griffin’s turn to be in the cross hairs of Gould, being sacked with two years left to run on his contract and just one win outside the top four.
Phil Gould is a compulsive liar. I’d absolutely loathe having him ‘run’ my club. The game doesn’t deserve it, the fans don’t deserve it, the media don’t deserve it and most importantly we just don’t need Gould’s rubbish in our game. I really feel for Penrith members and supporters having their own Donald Trump like character taking their club hostage.
If one more journalist suggests Trent Barrett &/or John Cartwright are coming to Panthers next season, I will scream. Read my lips: ITS NOT HAPPENING. It’s never been suggested. It’s never been considered. Apologies to fans of both clubs. I don’t know who starts this stuff.
— Phil Gould (@PhilGould15) August 2, 2018
This is a tweet from Gould just days before Griffin's release. Will another one of his lies emerge?