Phil Gould takes NRL fans by surprise with striking new look for 2023

NRL fans are all saying the same thing about the Canterbury Bulldogs supremo.

Phil Gould, pictured here looking noticeably different in 2023 than he did in 2022.
Phil Gould is looking noticeably different in 2023 than he did in 2022. Image: Phil Gould/Twitter/Getty

NRL fans and pundits couldn't help but notice how much weight Phil Gould has lost when he turned out for Channel 9's NRL season launch this week. The Canterbury Bulldogs football manager looked slim and trim as he took to the stage to field questions from host James Bracey about the upcoming season.

As well as his duties at the Bulldogs, Gould will be back in the commentary box for Channel 9 this year. And if his new physique is anything to go by he'll have plenty of energy.

HEARTBREAKING: Nicho Hynes' admission amid mother's turmoil

TOUGH: Craig Bellamy's revelation about Ryan Papenhuyzen injury

According to The Sunday Telegraph, the 59-year-old has lost more than 10kg since arriving at Bulldogs after leaving the Warriors in 2021. According to 'insiders', the weight loss is simply due to Gould watching his diet and exercising more.

Gould's co-commentator Paul 'Fatty' Vautin even made mention of his weight at the Channel 9 launch, reportedly saying: “Who is this? Slim Gould?” However Gould didn't respond and chose to remain tight-lipped.

Nevertheless, fans have certainly noticed how slim Gould looks and have been flocking to social media to praise him. Some suggested he must have been training with the players during the off-season. "Geez Gus Gould has lost a lot of weight and looking good - good to see," one wrote.

Phil Gould hails Cameron Ciraldo's influence at Bulldogs

Speaking earlier this week, Gould said new Canterbury coach Cameron Ciraldo has overseen one of the best NRL team preparations he has ever witnessed. The Bulldogs will field a new-look side against Manly on Sunday in their first regular-season game of 2023, with big-name recruits Viliame Kikau and Reed Mahoney ready to fire.

"I think he has run one of the best off-season programs that I have ever seen," Gould told AAP at Channel 9's launch. "Cameron and the high performance staff have done a terrific job. The players are really well prepared.

"The club has come together nicely. There are a lot of new players and emerging players and he has got them together as a group."

Phil Gould, pictured here speaking to the media at Belmore Sports Ground in 2022.
Phil Gould speaks to the media at Belmore Sports Ground in 2022. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images) (Getty Images)

Gould said Ciraldo's laid-back nature and clear messaging had got the players connected and primed for a big bounce-back season. "All of that is about to be tested," Gould said of the Bulldogs' clash with Manly.

"The fitness, the strength, the speed, the connectivity and the relationship they have got is all about to be tested. We will see how it goes in the rough and tumble."

Gould said Ciraldo has added a key ingredient to the mix at the Bulldogs that doesn't just revolve around big-name signings. "We talk about trust, honesty, integrity and all those sort of things but you've got to live it and breathe it," Gould said.

"I think Cameron has concentrated a lot on their cultural awareness and connectivity...getting to know the face behind the face and the person behind the footballer. That is going to stand them in good stead when things get tough during games and in the down times. It is a season that has plenty of ups and downs and I think they are ready to take it all on."

Gould said it's also been pleasing to see how Josh Reynolds has returned to his beloved club after stints with the Wests Tigers and in the UK Super League. "Josh Reynolds' leadership through the off-season has been tremendous. It is a role model to the younger players," he said.

"That's what he wanted to do. He wanted to train with them and show them how a Bulldog trains and he's done that, to the point where he impressed the coach enough to be included in the top 30. I don't know how many games he will play this year, or whether he will play any, but the coach just wanted him around the group as much as possible."

with AAP

Click here to sign up to our newsletter for all the latest and breaking stories from Australia and around the world.