Phil Gould on the right side of history after Bali uproar at Newcastle
History is not on Newcastle's side amid uproar over the NRL club's controversial move.
Phil Gould's big claim that rugby league teams he played in were hardened by training relentlessly during a bye week – instead of taking time off to holiday – is backed up by history. Gould took umbrage at reports several Newcastle players were headed to Bali for a short holiday during their bye round, telling the Six Tackles with Gus podcast: "I remember when I was a player and we had byes, (coach) Warren Ryan used to flog us.
"It put steel in your team, it put steel in your attitude. You are paid to train and play, that’s what you are paid to do. Find something else to do, find another job if you don’t want this job."
'WAIT AND SEE': Brad Fittler's shock Origin claim about Jake Trbojevic
STATE OF ORIGIN: Predicted New South Wales team for Game I
Gould spent four seasons under renowned taskmaster Ryan - two at the Newtown Jets (1981-82) and two at Canterbury (1984-85). There were no byes in the NSWRL competition in 81-82 but by 1984 each team received two byes after Newtown was controversially cut, reducing the number of clubs to 13.
Ryan's training ground floggings during bye weeks had mixed results, with the Bulldogs smacking Cronulla 26-10 in round nine of the 1984 season after the break before the Sharks dished out a 24-6 beating following Canterbury's second bye.
The following year, the Dogs lost after the first-round bye - 24-4 to Manly - but downed the Sea Eagles 16-12 after their next bye break. But Ryan's hard-arse approach reaped long-term benefits, with Canterbury taking out the 1984 and '85 premierships.
Gould left for South Sydney in 1986, but the Ryan-coached Bulldogs maintained their 50-50 post-bye strike-rate in 1986-87 before the competition expanded to 16 teams in 1988.
Newcastle players granted controversial mid-season break
Greg Alexander, who played under Gould at Penrith, doesn’t have a problem with players taking overseas breaks during the season. But he warns it could backfire spectacularly on the Knights, who have lost their last three games to slump to 14th on the ladder.
"It's all about timing and perception," Brandy told Radio SEN. "If they'd won three games coming into this, a Newcastle fan wouldn't bat his eyelid.
"But they're up in arms at the moment. I'm sure Newcastle people are going 'this is ridiculous. These overpaid, underperforming players are now getting a chance to go and spend a week in Bali - not good enough'.
"It's all about how it looks and at the moment it doesn’t look good for Newcastle. If they come back (from Bali) and they lose and it looks like (coach) Adam O'Brien has taken the easy route, he'll regret it because he'll cop that much grief over it."
Sign up to our newsletter and score the biggest sport stories of the week.