Penrith caretaker coach Cameron Ciraldo has confirmed a massive claim Phil Gould made in an explosive interview hitting back at Anthony Griffin.
Speaking on The Footy Show on Thursday night, Gould said he twice talked Ciraldo out of resigning due to his poor relationship with axed predecessor Griffin.
Gould said the then assistant coach Ciraldo twice wanted out “for the way he was treated by the coach” and twice this season – most recently following the 50-18 loss to Brisbane on July 20 – the board had wanted to sack Griffin.
“Twice I talked him (Ciraldo) into staying,” Gould said.
On Friday morning, Ciraldo confirmed he wanted to walk out on the club twice this season for a “number of reasons”.
The 33-year-old, installed as interim coach in the wake of Griffin’s sacking, said he was glad Panthers boss Gould talked him out of resigning.
“At the time of me wanting to do that, I just thought it was in the best interest of myself and the club and Hook and my family that I did that,” Ciraldo said.
“But I got talked around twice and I’m glad I’m still here.”
Ciraldo also hit out at claims from Griffin this week that the Panthers had struggled to develop juniors before his arrival in 2016.
Ciraldo had coached Penrith’s under-20s team to a premiership the year before.
“I was surprised (by those comments) because we’d won a number of titles in the lower grades up until the point that Hook got here,” Ciraldo said.
“There were some really good systems in place there, some people doing a lot of hard work before he’d got here and again, the people in these four walls know about that.
“A lot of the players that are playing first grade now were playing SG Ball in 2013-14, under-20s 2015, so I’m pretty confident we had good systems in place.”
Gould also said Griffin, who he sacked on Monday, had embarrassed himself in his pointed critique of Gould and the club on Wednesday.
Gould claimed Griffin’s old school ways and lack of collaboration contributed to his demise, stating he didn’t believe he was capable of delivering a Panthers premiership.
A proud and defiant Griffin defended his methods and the suggestion he had lost his players’ faith.
Speaking on Fox League’s NRL 360 on Wednesday, Griffin also questioned Gould’s patience and production and said it was the Panthers supremo, not he, who liked to pull all the strings.
Gould fired back a heated retort on Thursday night, saying Griffin “hurt a lot of people in that interview and embarrassed himself in front of people that know the truth”.
“They wouldn’t have won a premiership the way he was coaching, no,” Gould said on the Footy Show.
“He’s got us nowhere near a premiership at the moment.
“To say it (the club) was shambles before he arrived … is just entirely wrong.”
Meanwhile, there are reports Ciraldo could warm the seat for more than two seasons under the watchful eye of Gould and deputy chairman Greg Alexander.