Penrith Panthers: Possible replacements for Anthony Griffin

With confirmation that the Penrith Panthers and head coach Anthony 'Hook' Griffin would part ways with immediate effect, we take a look at possible replacements.

Picture credit: S.A.Mc9

Well, there you have it.

We finally have an end to one of the most tumultuous and rumour-scatted relationships in the NRL as the Penrith Panthers and club supremo Phil Gould confirm they have cut ties with embattled head coach Anthony Griffin with four games left in the regular season.

Astonishingly, the Panthers are running fifth and within touching distance of the top spot on the competition table at the time Gould has swung the axe but despite never missing the top eight under his control, Griffin’s position had reportedly become untenable at the foot of the mountains.

With that in mind, we take a look at some possible replacement options who could fill Hook’s boots on Mulgoa Road moving forward.

  1. 1 Ivan Cleary

    Could it be so?

    Could former Penrith head coach Ivan Cleary return to the foot of the mountains and take charge of the Panthers once again?

    Those who feel like whoever holds Ivan holds the key to securing the signature of his son, current Penrith and New South Wales halfback Nathan Cleary sure think so.

    Cleary coached at the Panthers from 2012 to 2015 before he himself was unceremoniously axed by Phil Gould who told a shocked media that the former Warriors mentor was tired and needed a break from the game.

    Cleary had a brief hiatus before launching back into the league as coach of the Wests Tigers in 2017 and has played a big part in a roster overhaul at the club.

    Though his time at the club ended with a winning record below 45%, many felt at the time Cleary wasn't given a fair shake after an injury-plagued campaign, so a return to Penrith may give him a shot at redemption with a much better playing group than the one he left at the club.

  2. 2 Cameron Ciraldo

    Currently an assistant coach at the club, Penrith insiders have raved about the former forward's football brain and there's every chance he could be seen by the top decision makers as the sort of fresh approach they'd like immediately after the reign of Griffin.

    Ciraldo put together a solid but unspectacular career as a footballer with spells at Cronulla, Newcastle and Penrith as well as international appearances for Italy, but it has been his off-field approach and training style which have impressed those out Penrith way and they have privately touted him as a future first grade coach for some time.

    Ciraldo will also have the chance to impress his potential new bosses given he's likely to take the reins at the club for the next four weeks of the regular season and the finals campaign beyond.

    Given the league's incoming rules around salaries for off-field staff, a cheaper option like Ciraldo could appeal to Penrith as they'll be forced to absorb the huge sums of money they will now owe ex-coach Anthony Griffin.

  3. 3 Michael Maguire

    While some would-be super sleuths were already openly suggesting on social media that current South Sydney Rabbitohs mentor Anthony Seibold had been spotted leaving Penrith's plush Academy facility just hours after Griffin's axing became official, it's far more likely an ex-South Sydney coach could be on the radar for Phil Gould and the Panthers.

    In his role with Channel Nine, Gould has openly discussed how big a fan he is of Maguire's no-nonsense, hard-line approach and it would be no surprise whatsoever if he felt 'Madge' was the right man to come in and steer the Penrith juggernaut moving forward.

    Sacked by South Sydney at the end of the 2017 season, Maguire looms as one of the key players on the coaching free agent market and would be a high-profile capture for the Panthers.

    Maguire's time with South Sydney ended with a win percentage above 55% and a Premiership in 2014, though the club's massive improvement under first-year coach Seibold does raise some questions.

  4. 4 Trent Barrett

    While Trent Barrett has had a pretty tough time of things as the head coach of the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles, he is still thought of highly by the Penrith bosses who oversaw his time as an assistant coach at the club.

    There are plenty of rumours that Barrett may suffer a similar fate to that of Anthony Griffin and be handed his marching orders at the end of the 2018 season and if that proves the case, it's not impossible to think that Gould would be happy to hand Barrett a ticket back to coaching in the big time given their strong relationship.

    Barrett has shown glimpses of a sound tactical mind, but there are huge question marks over his man management and roster management capabilities, something that would impact less at Penrith given Gould's ultimate control over the playing group.

    If I could put my impartiality aside for one moment though, as a Penrith fan, I don't think Barrett would be the right fit for the club at all.

    Who do you think will replace Anthony Griffin as the next full-time head coach of the Penrith Panthers? Let us know in the comments and poll below.

  1. Poll: Who do you think will replace Anthony Griffin as the next full-time head coach of the Penrith Panthers?

    1. Ivan Cleary
    2. Cameron Ciraldo
    3. Michael Maguire
    4. Trent Barrett
    5. Other
    511 votes
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