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What a difference a week makes...

The game at its best...and worst...

What a difference a week makes...

What a difference a week makes – one minute we are lauding the NRL for its handling the Immortal’s ceremony – next minute we are trying to understand the most brutal of hatchet jobs that has been carried out by Phil Gould on their former, successful coach Anthony Griffin.

Gould has exercised his tremendous (and reckless) power by pulling the trigger on Griffin who had his team on the cusp of a successful semi-final campaign – which has shell shocked everybody.

The catalyst for this, of course, is the bold plan to re-unite Ivan Cleary with the Panthers and his son Nathan – who is off contract at the end of 2019.

A massive personality clash and a difference in coaching philosophies is being blamed for his sudden departure.

This ruthless approach has the hallmarks of the NFL and Premier League - which has punted coaches at a moment’s notice - as they dust themselves off and get back on the coaching merry go round.

The strategy to recruit Ivan Cleary will have to overcome a couple of hurdles – namely the two-year agreement that he has in place with the Tigers and the role he has played in recruiting the current team.

Unlike the players’ contracts which does not allow an opposition club to approach them “technically” until they are inside the last 12 months of the deal, it seems the Tigers will be seeking huge compensation – if they choose not to stand in his way.

The cloak and dagger attempt to secure coaches recently including the Broncos trying to poach Craig Bellamy has reminded me of a bold plan that was adopted by the great Peter “Bullfrog” when a new coach was brought to the club – such as Warren Ryan in 1983.

The Bullfrog had Ryan (signed and sealed) before he terminated the agreement with their Premiership winning coach of 1980 Ted Glossop.

It was seen as a tough decision at the time – but it was needed to put the hard edge on the Bulldogs that was missing and the team went on to win Premierships in 1984 and 1985.

Gould has taken a massive risk in removing Griffin – without Cleary confirming his interest in their impending offer – and he will look foolish if he chooses to stay at the Tigers.

The Tigers should move to increase his current salary and extend his contract at the club before they move heaven and earth to sign his son Nathan when he becomes a free agent to start negotiating from November 1.

There will be plenty of fun and games before the end of the season – including how the Panthers respond to the news when they take on the Titans this week.

Caretaker coach Cameron Ciraldo will have to accept Gould’s advice in the short term and will need his senior players to help drive the team as the uncertainty around the appointment of their next head coach continues to bubble along.

The structure of their football dept will need to be reviewed as the CEO and the Board of Directors have given Gould the autonomy to pull the trigger on two coaches – in less than three years – despite their excellent coaching records and the fact they are both decent people.

Nothing less than a Premiership in 2019 can justify the decision that has been taken and Gould must accept the blame if the Panthers fail to do so.


Another champion of our game Billy Slater has decided to call it quits after the 2018 season.

He has obviously reached the telling point in his career where he has realised that he cannot continue to play at his lofty standards – mentally and physically – for another 12 months.

You have to admire the courage and dignity with the way he has handled this emotional call as he attempts to win a final Premiership with his beloved Storm.

His influence on the game and the Storm over the past 15 years has been incredible as he changed the way modern day fullbacks have played the game.

Last year’s Clive Churchill medal winner could be in rarefied air – if he was to play his part in a final swansong (alongside his partner in crime Cameron Smith) – as his team approaches the final month of the competition.

I mentioned the emotional recipe that is needed to win a competition recently and this could be their absolute Wild card as they enter the play-offs.

Well done Billy – truly one of the best our game has had the pleasure to watch.


My tips:

Broncos Warriors Roosters Panthers Sea Eagles Dragons Raiders Storm