Anthony Griffin has lifted the lid on his dramatic sacking from the Penrith Panthers, taking aim at Phil Gould in an explosive interview on Fox Sports.
The Panthers stunned the NRL after announcing they were cutting ties with Griffin just four weeks out from the NRL finals series.
GRIFFIN’S DEMISE: The chat that set Panthers coaching saga in motion
The stunning move came after months of rumours suggesting the former Broncos mentor was on the outer with his club supremo.
Gould claimed that Griffin’s inability to work with other coaches and delegate duties at the club were fundamental reasons behind his sacking.
“We kept offering as much assistance to him as we could, but he was determined to do things his way,” Gould told reporters.
“It’s the old school way – it’s the way I used to coach back in the day. We had a number of discussions and I said, ‘we really need to delegate and you can’t be doing all these things yourself’.”
However, the former Penrith boss broke his silence on Fox Sports’ NRL 360 on Wednesday night, insisting a breakdown in the relationship between the pair was closer to the truth.
“I take them (Gould’s comments) with a grain of salt,” Griffin said.
“Our relationship broke down on coaching philosophy.
“The suggestion that I didn’t involve staff is totally untrue.
“The reason I’m sitting here today is because we had a difference in philosophy on how the team should be coached.
In his role as Panthers chairman, Gould nominated Griffin’s “old-school approach” to coaching as the prime reason for his axing on Monday.
“Gus (Gould) hasn’t coached for 20 years. He hasn’t had his head in the fire for 20 years. If there’s anyone old school in the conversation … he’d need to be there as well,” Griffin said.
The former mentor admitted he did butt heads with Matt Moylan last season before the star departed the club for Cronulla.
However, Griffin denied suggestions from Gould that he’d lost the dressing room at the Panthers – accusing Gould of putting a spin on the reasons for his axing.
“I know when there’s a dressing room that’s lost and when there’s one that’s not,” Griffin added.
“If your goal is to be popular every day as a coach you’re going to be despondent.”
Griffin declared his near-three-season tenure at Penrith as “very successful” and said Gould’s claim that the former Brisbane mentor has lost the dressing room was merely “spin” to justify his decision to sack the coach to the board.
The 51-year-old said he’d done everything – and more – asked of him when Gould head-hunted him to take charge of the Panthers before the start of the 2016 season.
“I was brought in to do a job from the inside out. Or that was my vision for the players – and it’s happening,” Griffin said.
“I know something Gus said about the next level or we couldn’t go to the next level (under my coaching). Well, we’re at the next level and we’re there quicker than I thought we would be.
“We’ve gone from playing off for the wooden spoon (before I arrived) to going sixth, sixth (in 2016 and 2017) to equal fourth (this year) and I think they’re a real good chance of winning the comp this year.
Gould’s sacking of Griffin is the second time the Panthers boss has taken such a step with a Panthers head coach, after he cut short the tenure of currents Tigers coach Ivan Cleary in 2015.
Amazingly, Griffin had only signed a two-year extension with the club in October last year, and had coached the Panthers to the finals every year since he took over in 2016.
The sacked coach wished his former club the best of luck in their upcoming finals charge and was praised by fans for his classy handling of his inglorious exit.
Really wonderful interview from Anthony Griffin, well done.
— Hayley Byrnes (@HayleyByrnes) August 8, 2018
Anthony Griffin take a bow what a true gentleman you deserve better
— buddah (@rabbitohbuddah) August 8, 2018
WOW !!! Anthony Griffin , it’s a credit to you and your family how you just conducted yourself on NRL 360 . Good luck in whatever comes your way in the future , I know I will be in your corner .
— Paul Clifford (@Breakypunter) August 8, 2018