Panthers boss confesses coach issue
PENRITH supremo Phil Gould has admitted his team's sporadic performances could be the result of his own roster management.
The Panthers have become the cardiac kids of the 2018 season, blowing expected wins against lower-ranked teams and then dazzling the competition with some of the best attacking performances seen this season.
The Panthers produced the greatest comeback in 110 years when they delivered a miracle to score four times in the final seven minutes on their way to an impossible 28-24 win over Manly at Brookvale Oval on Saturday.
The club's unstable run of form has raised questions surrounding the future of coach Anthony Griffin with reports emerging on Monday night that the Panthers are considering swinging the axe on the former Broncos mentor.
The club has been linked with a move for Manly coach Trent Barrett and his Manly assistant John Cartwright (a Panthers great).
"There has been so much outside noise in relation to the Panthers and their coaching situation," Fox Sports commentator James Hooper said.
"The noise won't go away at the moment, that perhaps Anthony Griffin might move on at the end of the season and he could end up coaching over in the Super League or somewhere else.
"That would mean that perhaps the door opens for Trent Barrett and John Cartwright, who won a premiership at the Panthers many years ago when they won their inaugural title, to go back out west and head up this young gun roster.
"It is arguably one of the best lists in the competition."
Gould on Monday night admitted his team has an issue at coaching level.
His declaration that the club's talent is "unquestioned" has put the heat on Griffin to explain why the club has slumped from the top of the ladder down to fifth.
"It happens far too often," Gould said.
"They've lost games to lower-placed teams all season and they've been behind in games. Two of the top teams, the Roosters and the Broncos, came after them and beat them by big scores. So there's obviously an issue there with their defence, but the talent is unquestioned.
"You asked is it because they play ad lib football. I don't particularly think they do. I think within the structure they can fire out of it with the talent that they have to do what they do, but they can't rely on the fact that they can score tries and allow the scoreboard to run away on them.
"Sooner or later they have to come to terms with that otherwise… we've made the finals four of the last five years if we can play finals this year. As a club it's been an outstanding period for it. Whether or not we can go deep into finals football will depend upon whether or not they can improve their defence.
"It's really up to the coaches and the players. I'm not a coach. I don't do the coaching. They need to do it. We as a club provide all the resources possible and they're having a great year. They're running fifth."
Gould admitted his recruitment and retention policy of building the youngest team in the competition could also be the reason the club has been up and down this year.
"As a club we're performing outstandingly well, but there's this little thing with our NRL team," he said.
"Whether it's immaturity… see nine times this year we've put out the youngest team (that round) in the NRL. Maybe that's my fault because they're still a bit immature and the roster is still a little bit young. But they're not going to be young much longer and they've got to start to muscle up in those games and keep themselves in the games much longer."