Penrith see clearer with Ciraldo in charge

Scott Bailey
Cameron Ciraldo (r) and Nathan Cleary on media duty after Penrith's NRL win over the Gold Coast

Penrith centre Dean Whare claims Anthony Griffin's axing as coach has made things clearer at the Panthers after players had already seen successor Cameron Ciraldo taking over more this year.

With three regular season games to play, the Panthers insist their NRL premiership charge remains on track after they last week became the first club to sack a coach while in a finals-playing position.

But Whare said the team had long been reacting differently to the former assistant and head attacking coach Ciraldo - and it meant little would have to change in the run home.

"I think Ciro is a little more vocal than he (Griffin) was," Whare said.

"(Griffin) hadn't really lost the sheds, just the way the boys responded to Ciro and to Hook was a bit different.

"The way he directed us as an assistant coach, especially in attack and the way we run around.

"Overall Hook took over everything else and sort of sat back and let Ciro take over.

"Nothing has to change too much as a playing group. Ourselves we've just got to work on our defence and everything else that was put in place is the same now."

Penrith returned to training on Monday after they claimed another come-from-behind win, over the Gold Coast, in Ciraldo's first game in charge.

Whare admitted the group had in some way seen Griffin's axing coming after a season of speculation and internal rumblings.

"It's been on the cards for a while now," he said.

"It's a bit of everything. The media, just through the club and the way Ciro has been taking over in the past year.

"It's a bit of a mix of everything."

The Kiwi centre said it was best the club pulled the trigger when they did.

"It's better getting it done now than during the finals or after and we're still a bit confused," Whare said.

"I think it's just a lot more clear now, what our jobs are and who do we talk to and listen up to.

"It's a lot more clarity and less confusion."

The fallout from the decision will continue this week with Panthers players not expecting Wests Tigers coach Ivan Cleary to arrive at the club next season after he vowed to honour his contract over the weekend.

Wayne Bennett and Trent Barrett continue to be other coaches linked to the Panthers while the players also believe 33-year-old Ciraldo could take over for the long-term.

"He has been very patient and done his time as an assistant," prop Reagan Campbell-Gillard said.

"I've got the utmost respect for Ciro in what he does and what he knows about rugby league.

"He's a very smart coach in what he does and how he likes to play."