Anthony Griffin has turned the heat on Phil Gould to deliver the premiership he promised Penrith fans fans six years ago after being sacking by the "jealous" Panthers supremo a month out from the NRL finals.
Griffin scored a unanimous win over Gould in the PR battle with a dignified appearance on Fox Sports' NRL 360 barely 48 hours after being unceremoniously cut by the Panthers supremo.
"If I can just say one thing, I really wish the Panthers all the best," Griffin said in a heartfelt message to his former charges.
"There's obviously some really good days ahead for that club and for the players and the staff out there, I'd love nothing more than to see them win a trophy this year.
"So, as hard as it would be to watch, I wish them all the best."
The 51-year-old's touching tribute to a dressing room that his boss claimed the coach had lost came after Griffin accused Gould of being a control freak who craved to be in charge when Penrith next won the competition.
"The main thing that hurts me the most is that I think they're on the verge of winning a premiership this year, which is probably one of the reasons I'm not there," Griffin said.
"Clearly we don't get on. It's the main reason I'm sitting in here and not coaching. We don't get on. It wouldn't be unusual to go a month or six weeks not sitting down and having a chat. We had to operate.
After we beat Manly I sensed things weren't right. The silence gets deafening when you're on the outer. I didn't anticipate it would be Monday. I thought we'd sort it out at the end of the year. (But) I understand the business is brutal."
Griffin's dignified response to his sacking earned the former coach much praise as it contrasted with Gould's ruthless ways:
Thought Anthony Griffin was great on NRL 360. Honest, direct. Very impressive.
— Will Sinclair (@sinclair_will) August 8, 2018
Damn impressive interview with Anthony Griffin tonight. Didn’t know much about the man himself and what he actually did for the club behind the scenes (his version of course). A great insight on the real clash of egos going on at the club.
— eventpod (@eventpodau) August 8, 2018
Griffin may not be a good coach but really showing he's one classy individual in this interview.
— Jo (@Jo_Blo2014) August 8, 2018
Great interview. I enjoyed it. Griffin a classy bloke. The problem was clearly Phil Gould meddling in the coaching when it's not his job. The team was travelling well but because of a difference in coaching philosophy and a few butting of the heads - Gould sacks the coach#NRL360
— Observer (@rugby_whisperer) August 8, 2018
Great show tonight #NRL360 , what a classy guy Anthony Griffin is
— Morgan Skelton (@CliffySkeltz) August 8, 2018
Anthony Griffin, such a decent, classy person, I feel very sorry for him. How is Phil Gould not accountable? I know which man can walk down the street with their head held high!
— Karen Wilkins (@karkyvass) August 8, 2018
— Jimmy stavrianos (@Jstavrianos) August 8, 2018
Very interesting TV tonight on #NRL360 think Griffin has handled himself really well, it's clearly very messy but the former coach was impressive.
— christopher werrell (@magicdragon10) August 8, 2018
Exactly right straight shooter with no hidden agendas who will be a great benefit to another club.#honest
— Mark Waugh (@juniorwaugh349) August 8, 2018
— David Blower (@dablower) August 8, 2018
Despite Cameron Ciraldo's appointment as coach for the rest of 2018, Griffin has no doubt Gould will take charge of the finals-bound Panthers in pursuit of title glory.
"He just needs to be in control," Griffin said.
"Gus runs the club - and I say that with all due to respect to everyone out there - but he runs the club. He makes all the decisions.
"So now that I'm not there, it's probably a breath of fresh air from that end (for Gould). I don't think there will be too much happening without his input."
Dubbed by his ex-boss as too "old school" to continue coaching Penrith, Griffin is adamant he did the job Gould head-hunted him to do - and more.
"Whether I'm old school or not, there's a hell of a lot a head coach has got to do these days to build a club to be able to produce a result every weekend," Griffin said.
"When you grow something from the ground up, it takes a lot of care and takes a lot of attention to detail in all areas - strength and conditioning, sports science, skill acquisition.
"They're young players that are playing first grade for the first time so there's a lot of welfare that goes on.
"So I'm proud of what I did there.
"If that's old school, I'll take old school any day to play a role in a club that's had so much success in the last three years."
"To be able to manage staff, to care for young players and to be able to build a roster from within, it takes patience and it takes a lot of time.