Rugby league great Phil Gould has teed off on the “childish” and “agenda-driven” media attacks on he and Bulldogs coach Trent Barrett after his much-publicized training takeover last week.
Gould, the Bulldogs’ general manager of football, came under fire from some sections of the media when it was revealed he took some responsibility off Barrett by taking over a Canterbury training session, with the club mired in a form slump.
The move appeared to pay off for Canterbury, who stunned the Roosters in the upset of round eight just days after Gould’s training session.
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Gould was pressed by Nine and Sydney Morning Herald reporter Michael Chammas on what really went down during that session, but he opted to remain tight-lipped.
“We’ve been talking about it for a week, so if you don’t know what happened why are we talking [about it],” Gould told Nine’s 100% Footy.
“You’re not going to hear from me, I don’t buy into that rubbish.”
Gould famously spent eight years with the Panthers between 2011 and 2019 as their general manager of football, where he had a huge hand in developing the current Penrith roster with his involvement in pathways.
Gould was then questioned about his previous involvements at other clubs, including his tenure at Penrith, which Chammas claimed rubbed then-Panthers coach, Anthony Griffin, the wrong way, who reportedly didn’t want any coaching intervention.
“That’s wrong too…I’m not answering it,” Gould responded.
“I don’t care what’s right. I don’t care what you people believe and I don’t care what you people say. I don’t care what the media says. I don’t care what the commentary says.
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“I know the truth, that’s all I need to know. I’m satisfied with that.”
Griffin was sacked during the middle of the 2018 season, with the Panthers eventually replacing him with current coach Ivan Cleary following an interim stint from Cameron Ciraldo.
Gould, while still being pressed by Chammas on his involvement with coaching at the Bulldogs, added that “there’s no pressure” on Barrett despite the team’s 2-6 start to the season.
Gould also confirmed that Barrett has the long term support of the club while labeling any speculation suggesting he could be ousted as “rubbish”.
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“Trent Barrett will be the coach of the Bulldogs long after I’m gone,” Gould said.
“He’s a long-term coach for the club.
“All this stuff that was misrepresented and misspoken about, and most of this is so childish, agenda-driven and personal grievances I’ve been dealing with pretty much for the most part of my career.
“It doesn’t affect me, I don’t worry about it and I laugh in their face with it.
“What they then try to do is get it around people who are around me, so that I will respond.
“They will write rubbish, they will write lies… and hope that I will respond and tell the truth.
“I’ve never done it. I’ve never tried to protect my own image by putting others down.
“If I tell the truth about a lot of these other things, a lot of other people will be very, very embarrassed. I don’t do that.
“I wonder about the childishness of the people who comment on this without ever knowing the real facts.”
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Gould’s storied history in rugby league as a player, coach, commentator, writer and administrator is well documented.
He was just 30 when he guided the Bulldogs to a title as a coach in 1988 before adding another premiership ring to his hand in 1991 with Penrith. He’s also the most successful NSW Blues coach in history with six Origin series wins.
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