Panthers Executive General Manager Rugby League Phil Gould AM has opened up about the demands of his role at the club, the development of the team since he began in his role six years ago and potential Origin selection for two star Panthers players.
Speaking to the Big Sports Breakfast, Gus spoke of his daily commute to the foot of the Mountains and his eagerness to witness the development of the players and coaching staff.
“I’ve always been at Penrith every day,” Gould said.
“It’s been a very busy role and trying to combine that with the media roles has been difficult, but also a lot of fun.
“I’m around Penrith every day and really watching this young side develop and enjoying what the coach and the players are doing.”
When asked to discuss the unique playing style of the team, Gould revealed the secret to the success of the playing group was down to the development programs in place at the club.
“It’s come a lot from these kids coming through the system together; playing together in the lower grades,” he said.
“We’ve got a great development pathway out here.
“We recruit strategically around that with fellas like Trent Merrin, James Tamou and Tim Browne, but essentially most of our players have been developed through our system over the last five or six years and that’s how we wanted to build our club.”
Gould added, “I think that success in football comes in combinations, in time spent together, playing together and I’m hoping this will be a nice period for the Panthers club.”
Given the meteoric rise of Nathan Cleary and the snubbing of Trent Merrin during the 2016 State of Origin series, Gould was asked about the prospects of both players being named for NSW.
Speaking about both of his young playmakers - Nathan Cleary and Te Maire Martin - Gould urged their development should not be rushed, citing their lack of experience in the top grade.
“He’s (Cleary) only just coming up to twenty First Grade games and his five-eighth partner (Martin) is only just coming up to ten First Grade games.
“Those boys have got a long way to go as yet and I don’t see any need to be rushing them.
“It’s still very early days for them; they’re doing a tremendous job.”
For Merrin, Gould had higher hopes for the lock forward following the retirement of Paul Gallen from representative duties.
“I think Trent Merrin is the perfect captain for that side at this time,” Gould said.
“They’ve got a few options but of all the options they throw up Trent is the one I know personally and I know what he’s done for our club and I know what a great job he would do in that role.”