Phil Gould fires back at Trent Robinson in ugly NRL war-of-words

NRL's new and unexpected war-of-words has continued over Joseph Suaalii.

Phil Gould during commentary and Trent Robinson during an NRL game.
Phil Gould (pictured left) has fired back at Trent Robinson (pictured right) as the ugly war-of-words over Joseph Suaalii's switch to rugby union continues. (Getty Images)

NRL guru Phil Gould has fired back at Trent Robinson and said he 'fears no one' as the fallout rages on over Joseph Suaalii's move to rugby union continues. Prodigious talent Suaalii left the NRL world saddened when it was announced he would be moving to rugby union at the end of his current Roosters contract.

The 19-year-old will still be playing NRL for the next two seasons, but according to Gould he might as well leave now. In a scathing rant on Channel 9 on Monday night, Gould said: “Every time he scores a try. Every time he does something in our game, people are going to refer to the fact that he’s going to rugby.

BOMBSHELL: Jack Wighton to test open market in Raiders blow

NEW TWIST: Clint Gutherson speaks as Eels' fullback target comes to light

“Why do we need that? Go now. Don’t let the door hit you on the arse on the way out. Go. Go now. Gone. He’s made his decision. You sign a contract for rugby 18 months before his league contract ends.

“You can’t sign with any other rugby league club in that time. He can only sign somewhere else. He’s made his decision. I have nothing against the kid. I’ve loved having him in the NRL. He’s a tremendous athlete and is great for the game. But he’s decided to be a rugby player. Bye bye. Off you go.”

This didn't sit well with the Roosters coach who blasted Gould for showing 'fear' over another code's ambition. Robinson also called out Gould for having a go at the 19-year-old in the highly-scrutinised situation.

However, Gould has taken the opportunity to fire back at Robinson. In NRL's new and unexpected war-of-words between the Bulldogs' sporting director and the Roosters coach, Gould shut down Robinson's claim he 'feared' rugby union and even went as far to say he doesn't want anything to do with the code.

“You mistake me for someone who cares what he says,” Gould said on Six Tackles With Gus. “He can only stick up for his player, and he’s got to build a relationship with the player because he’s got another 18 months," he said.

“I fear nothing, and I fear no one, so I don’t know what he’s talking about there. It is, it’s a competition between the codes. You can’t get away from that fact.

“I don’t care that Trent Robinson loves rugby. I don’t love rugby, I don’t even watch rugby. I have no interest in it whatsoever. ”

Phil Gould doubles down on Suaalii comments

In his earlier comments, Gould said to Suaalli, "Don’t let the door hit you" on the way out. And Gould doubled down on the comment and claimed the loss of Suaalii would be a 'kick in the guts' for the Roosters.

But he also addressed the wider issue and said he doesn't want the NRL to produce top talent, only for other codes to take them away at a young age.

“I don’t want (the NRL) to be a feeder system to anything else. But I’ve predicted this all along," he added.

“We’ve got some outstanding young players, we’ve spent a lot of money, a lot of time, put a lot of emotional effort into the development of young players. It’s my passion."

Joseph Suaalii takes a pass during a Sydney Roosters NRL training session.
Joseph Suaalii's move to rugby union has caused an almighty stir. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images) (Matt King via Getty Images)

On Wednesday, Robinson took exception to Gould's comments on his player and described them as 'ridiculous'. "He can stick to his turf and we'll stick to ours and how we want to deal with it," Robinson said.

"It showed a fair bit of a fear, for me, about another code. Lots of players sign a year out. Coaches go between rugby union and rugby league. To come out against Joey, as a 19-year-old, showed a fair bit of fear.

"He'll be here, those conversations are really clear between Joseph and myself and the club. There's no desire from (rugby) to get him out early, either."

There had been speculation over Suaalii's switch for some time and Rugby Australia is also reportedly targeting former schoolboy talents such as Cameron Murray, Tolu Koula and Will Penisini. While Nathan Cleary on Tuesday left the door ajar for a potential code switch in his future.

But Robinson has called for calm in NRL circles, saying: "We're going to have a great competition, always. This is the pinnacle of any rugby competition in the world. So stay cool, relax.

"We're always going to attract players that want to be their best, that want to be at the height of the game. We've got 17 teams of such a great competition. That's the calmness I guess that says we're going to produce players.

"Don't come out with fearful comments about other codes and all of that. Respect both sides of it, enjoy parts of their game, but stand tall on what our game is."

Sign up to our newsletter and score the biggest sport stories of the week.