Gould pans axed Panthers coach Griffin

Murray Wenzel
Penrith general manager Phil Gould has hit back at criticism from axed NRL coach Andrew Griffin

Phil Gould claims he twice talked interim Penrith coach Cameron Ciraldo out of resigning due to his poor relationship with axed predecessor Anthony Griffin.

The Panthers general manager said Griffin, who he sacked on Monday, had embarrassed himself in his pointed critique of Gould and the club on Wednesday.

Speaking on the Nine Network's Footy Show on Thursday night, Gould also claimed he talked the club's board out of sacking Griffin earlier this season despite two damning internal reviews.

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."

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.

Penrith now hope to lure former coach Ivan Cleary back, despite him having two years remaining on his contract with Wests Tigers.

Cleary was fired from the Panthers in 2015 but wants to reunite with his son, current NSW State of Origin and Panthers halfback Nathan Cleary.

Cleary's current employers aren't budging. Tigers chair Marina Go says he hadn't asked for a release and that the club had no intention of granting one after what she claimed was the Panthers' unethical behaviour.

Gould said talks between Cleary and the club had fast-tracked Griffin's axing, but he had no intention of poaching the Tigers coach while he was under contract.

"There was never any offer of a (2019) contract ... never a suggestion that he break a contract," Gould claimed.

Panthers chief executive Brian Fletcher told News Corp Australia on Thursday they would happily wait until 2020 for his services.

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.