In Gus We Trust

The Penrith Panthers needed someone who knew Rugby League. They needed someone that knew the club needed rebuilt at all levels.

They needed a guiding hand, and yet, they also needed someone who wasn’t worried about results at first, they just needed to re-establish the club. To make things right again.

It doesn’t matter what name you give to the job Phil Gould now has at Penrith. Call it a Football Operations Manager, the Coaching Coordinator….it doesn’t matter. He has been given complete control of the direction of the club, and will have an influence on football, not just at the NRL level, but right through the Penrith district.

It is what we needed as a club. We needed a complete revolution as well as a culture change. Over night, Penrith have gone from a basketcase, to a club that is in the hands of one of the games greatest thinkers.

The Panthers have yet to decide on who they will appoint as their next coach. I’d suggest Ricky Stuart is now out of the running, simply because a coach of his experience would have wanted complete control of the club himself. I cant see Stuart wanting to come in under Goulds regime, and that isn’t a slight against either person, its just a statement on what I’d suggest Stuart would be looking for from his next job.

I would guess that the next coach of the Panthers will be someone who doesn’t come with a huge price tag. I wouldn’t be surprised if the club signs its current assistant coach, Steve Georgallis to a two year deal. Gould will be at the club anyway, and you can bet he will be doing a certain amount of coaching.

I can see a scenario where Gould works with the team very closely, works with Georgallis, and then leaves Georgallis to do the more basic coaching work with the side.

The dream scenario would still be someone like Stuart or even Fitter working under Gould, but the main thing is, Goulds influence will have a direct impact of on field performances anyway.

Penrith’s junior development system looks set for a major overhaul. I would suggest we might see some radical changes to junior Rugby League in the entire Penrith district, which may extend to weight divisions or limits for junior teams and a restructure of the elite end of the junior system.

Penrith have more juniors than any other club in the world. They should be producing enough talent for a number of teams, let alone Penrith. I think we will see Gould putting some of his ideas for junior development in place and over the next five to ten years, it will be used as a model and possible example for other clubs to possibly follow.

At NRL level, Gould will be able to work with some handy players. I can’t wait to see what Michael Jennings and Luke Walsh in particular get out of playing under Gould’s guidance. I would suggest that Gould will also lure a few players to the foot of the mountains. His influence at State Of Origin level to this day can see a player given a shot at a Sky Blue jersey he might not have otherwise received.

If things go well, and as to plan, you could see Penrith coming out of the next few years as the best club in the game.

Once the financial side of the Leagues club group is brought under control, if the junior development system is sorted, an influx of new television money….success for Penrith doesn’t amount to much more than having a few things in place that work around our junior system.

In the long term, Penrith should be the type of club that has an embarrassment of riches. Imagine the Melbourne Storm, but when they lose an Inglis, they bring in an Idris. The type of club that if needed, can top an under performing player on the shoulder and tell him to find another club because there are plenty of youngsters ready to take his place.

I talked a couple of weeks ago about optimism being the most important emotion a fan of any sporting team could have. With Phil Gould in charge, every single Panthers fan now can feel optimistic about the future of our club.

It might not end in a Premiership. It might now change the position of the first grade team for a couple of years. However, what is will do is see proactive decisions being made. The club will not just sit back and decay any more, moves will be made, things will be allowed to develop, and it will all give fans something to look forward to.

As Panthers fans, we have been lucky to be able to taste success twice in the last twenty years.

Premiers, the best team in the world.

It showed us all how much our football team means to us. It showed the Penrith district what it felt like to be proud of achieving on a national stage.

We all want to go back there, but we don’t need premiership success. All we really want is a good club, a club that we can be proud of, that belongs to us and that we know will turn up and represent our region with pride.

With Phil Gould now calling the shots, Panthers fans can be assured that we will now get the commitment we deserve. Its not just about winning, its about effort. Thats all Panthers fans have wanted for many years now, and we should finally get what we deserve.

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