Cameron Ciraldo photo leaves NRL world in a frenzy: 'Done deal'

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A meeting involving Penrith assistant coach Cameron Ciraldo and a Bulldogs powerbroker has sent the NRL rumour mill into overdrive. Pic: Getty
A meeting involving Penrith assistant coach Cameron Ciraldo and a Bulldogs powerbroker has sent the NRL rumour mill into overdrive. Pic: Getty

Penrith assistant coach Cameron Ciraldo has set tongues wagging in the NRL after being pictured in a secret meeting with a Canterbury Bulldogs powerbroker.

The Bulldogs are on the hunt for a new full-time coach after sacking Trent Barrett earlier in the season, with Ciraldo emerging as the one of the most sought-after mentors in the NRL.

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Ciraldo, off-contract at the end of the season, is often credited as the architect of Penrith's premiership-winning defence and has been declared "a head coach in waiting" by current Panthers head coach Ivan Cleary.

The Wests Tigers thought they'd done enough to lure the respected assistant coach to the club from 2023 after reportedly offering him a massive five-year deal, only for Ciraldo to turn them down earlier this month.

Now it appears as though the Bulldogs are in the box seat to secure Ciraldo's services after he was spotted in a secret lunch meeting on Wednesday.

Images show Ciraldo sitting down at The Locker Room in Homebush with his manager George Mimis, his accountant and Craig Laundy of Laundy Hotels - which is the Bulldogs’ major sponsor.

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Ciraldo and the Bulldogs have remained tight-lipped about the meeting, with football boss Phil Gould responding "no" to a question about whether the Penrith assistant had met the club's board.

Nevertheless, the meeting has sent the NRL rumour mill into overdrive, with multiple media reports claiming Ciraldo's move to the Bulldogs is as good as a "done deal".

Ciraldo was also being considered for the Warriors head coaching position until the club announced fellow Penrith assistant Penrith assistant Andrew Webster as its successor to Nathan Brown.

The Tigers moved on from Ciraldo's snub by announcing a succession plan that will see veteran Tim Sheens coach the club for the next two seasons, before Benji Marshall takes over in 2025.

Marshall and Robbie Farah, who played under Sheens in the Tigers' 2005 premiership victory, will serve as assistant coaches for two years from 2023.

with AAP

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