PREVIEW 🔍 Robert Crosby looks at what to expect in Sunday night's second State of Origin clash.
115 mins ago
Fans out at Penrith are sick and tired of the rumblings that continue to come out of their beloved club. But where there's smoke there's fire so the question has to be asked - what the hell is happening at the Panthers?
Panthers supporters backed their general manager Phil Gould when he replaced coach Ivan Cleary with Anthony Griffin. That came after the club parted ways with a number of legends including local junior Luke Lewis. They were a little bemused to begin with but they wanted to believe that the new administration was trying to change the culture of the club. Whether looking a little tired is a good enough excuse to sack your coach is another argument for another time.
Griffin instilled another junior - Matt Moylan - as the team's captain. Only problem was he never wanted it. They persisted thinking Moylan would evolve into the role but things only got worse between Moylan and Griffin. They released him.
The next big thing Bryce Cartwright is now gone too. One of the most skilful players in the National Rugby League asked for a release recently to join the Gold Coast Titans. We all know the issues Cartwright has had but it's interesting to think that he thought he was better off at another organisation.
Tyrone Peachey? Rumours abound that he's could be on the way out too.
On Monday, The Mole reported on the Wide World of Sports that Gould had given Griffin ten rounds to prove he was the right man to coach the Panthers.
"Griffin was given a two-year extension by Phil Gould at the end of 2017 and the Panthers supremo is best mates with Griffin's manager Wayne Beavis," the report read.
"But the Panthers will cut their losses if they start the new season poorly and look for a new coach.
Plenty of coaches will start 2018 under pressure - but none more so than Griffin at the foot of the mountains."
All this after the club lost two of the best young prospects in rugby league - Moylan and Cartwright. Where is the leadership coming from? What kind of message is Gould sending by supporting Griffin for so long and then putting him on probation in the next breath?
The Australian's Brent Read then tweeted on Tuesday: "Bit of mail doing the rounds that Penrith are fighting to hold onto Josh Mansour. Parramatta believed to have made a big offer as they prepare for life after Semi Radradra. Panthers may struggle to compete".
While the representative winger is contracted to the Panthers for 2018 it would be catastrophe if Penrith lost Moylan, Cartwright and Mansour in such a short amount of time.
Penrith fans would be justified in being a tad worried about their golden boy halfback Nathan Cleary too. After all, it was Gould that punted his father and left him without a job. The future State of Origin prospect is off-contract at the end of 2019. What a kick in the guts for Gus if Nathan was to sign with a rival club and cite tiredness and the need for a "freshen up".
The Panthers provided a whole bunch of reasons why they sacked Moylan, Cartwright and Ivan Cleary. They've explained why they haven't won a premiership since 2003 and there will be plenty to say if and when Griffin is shown the door.
But then that only leaves one man to take the blame and that's Panthers GM Phil Gould.
Leadership evidently starts and stops with him.
The decisions he has signed off on dictate that.
Join Curtis Woodward and The81stMinute Call Team for their return on Saturday 10 March, live from ANZ Stadium at 1pm for Western Suburbs Magpies vs. Canterbury Bulldogs.
The opinions expressed in the article are those of the author and do not represent the views of LeagueUnlimited.com.