Phil Gould has denied actively campaigning to prevent Anthony Griffin from getting another job after the rugby league supremo sacked him from Penrith two years ago.
St George appointed Griffin as the club’s new head coach for 2021 after parting ways with Paul McGregor this season, and the decision has sparked a passionate reaction in the NRL world.
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Some are pleased Griffin — who coached at Brisbane before being dumped mid-season at Penrith despite the Panthers being in the top four at the time of his axing — has another chance to coach in the NRL, while others believe he is not up to the task.
His critics have been accused of running Gould’s agenda after the former Penrith boss cut Griffin loose in 2018 because he didn’t rate him as a coach who could deliver a premiership to the foot of the mountains.
But Gould says any suggestions he tried to prevent Griffin getting the Dragons gig are out of line.
The Channel 9 commentator also involved good friend and Griffin’s manager Wayne Beavis in the furore, suggesting he played a role in allowing Gould’s name to be dragged through the mud.
“To suggest that I’ve been part of some sort of media agenda to prevent him getting another coaching role is a disgrace. It just simply isn’t true,” Gould said on his Six Tackles with Gus podcast.
“The most hurtful thing through all of this is that Anthony Griffin is managed by Wayne Beavis, who’s been a very dear friend of mine for 40 years.
“Now, it pains me to say: I don’t know if Wayne was a party to this ridiculous and scurrilous campaign, to involve my name as a lever to securing Anthony Griffin a job at the Dragons but by his silence on this issue, I can only assume that he has endorsed this tactic and allowed it to play out the way it has.
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Could and Griffin didn’t see eye-to-eye.Source:News Corp Australia
“To allow people to make these types of accusations and misrepresent things so blatantly and over a long period of time, without Wayne stepping in to correct the narrative, is extremely disappointing on a personal note. And I find it devastating, in fact, from a personal view.
“I doubt that I’ll ever speak to Wayne Beavis again. And we’re talking about a dear and valued friendship. I love him dearly but I’ve been deeply hurt by the antics of the past week — and that’s all I will say about that.”
It was widely reported in 2018 Gould sacked Griffin because the pair’s relationship became untenable. Gould recently said he did not choose to axe Griffin, but was instructed to by the Penrith board.
“Let me just say this once again, for the record: Anthony Griffin did not lose his job at Panthers because he fell out with me,” Gould said on his podcast.
“In fact, every staff member at Panthers, including myself, did everything possible to assist Anthony Griffin. I won’t go into any more detail than that.
“Secondly, I did not sack Anthony Griffin. That was an instruction from the board at the time.”
Gould said he has never given a reference to an NRL club about Griffin and has had nothing to do with his career since he left the Panthers.
Speaking on NRL 360 on Tuesday night, Griffin said he has learnt a lot from what happened at Penrith and is confident he will be a better coach at the Dragons because of it.
“Fundamentally, that relationship (with Gould) broke down,” Griffin said. “I’m not proud of that but I’ve moved on.”
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