The Penrith Panthers have sacked coach Anthony Griffin four weeks out from the finals series, with the experienced mentor deciding to immediately depart the club after being informed his services wouldn’t be needed come season’s end.
The stunning move takes place after months of rumours suggesting the former Broncos mentor was on the outer with club supremo Phil Gould.
If one more journalist suggests Trent Barrett &/or John Cartwright are coming to Panthers next season, I will scream. Read my lips: ITS NOT HAPPENING. It’s never been suggested. It’s never been considered. Apologies to fans of both clubs. I don’t know who starts this stuff.
— Phil Gould (@PhilGould15) August 2, 2018
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.
NRL.com first reported the news on Monday afternoon, before The Australian journalist Brent Read revealed Griffin would indeed leave the club immediately, despite having his side well placed for a deep run into the NRL Finals, in fifth place on the ladder, and coming off successive victories over Manly and Canberra.
Anthony Griffin gone with immediate effect. Cameron Ciraldo caretaker coach for remainder of the year. Mutual agreement according to club
— Brent Read (@brentread_7) August 6, 2018
Griffin's sacking has been weeks in the making – senior players off him. Gus coaching the side, pushing Griffin aside anyway this season. The team should be contending for premierships not for fifth or sixth place.
— Chris Garry (@ChrisGarry7) August 6, 2018
The Panthers were quick to confirm the reports in a statement released on Monday afternoon.
“There has been much speculation and rumours about the club and head coach Anthony Griffin over the last few weeks.
“After discussions with Anthony Griffin it is time to end that speculation. By mutual agreement, the club and Anthony have agreed to part ways, effective immediately.
“Anthony departs the club after much success, having taken the Panthers to the finals in the last two years and leaves the club on track for another finals appearance in 2018.
“We would like to thank Anthony for his service to Panthers and wish him well for the future.”
A huge part of the club’s decision to let go of Griffin reportedly came down to their lack of faith in him to lead the Panthers to a premiership.
Current assistant coach Cameron Ciraldo, who enjoys a great relationship with young superstar Nathan Cleary, will be named interim coach for 2018.