Penrith Panthers honcho Phil Gould.
Penrith Panthers honcho Phil Gould.

‘Fix it’: Did Gus spray Griffin in the tunnel last Saturday?

DID Penrith supremo Phil Gould give coach Anthony Griffin a spray in the tunnel at half time of last week's trial game?

That's the suggestion by who has reported Panthers boss Gould said words to the effect of; "this looks like a reserve grade outfit ... fix it".

The spray came as Griffin and his Penrith players exited up the tunnel at half time of a rather embarrassing 24-10 loss to a second-string Canterbury side.

The Bulldogs fielded a weak side compared to the Panthers, but somehow managed to win comfortably at Belmore Sportsground.

NRL 360 co-host Ben Ikin quizzed Penrith stars Trent Merrin and Reagan Campbell-Gillard as to how the loss could possibly happen. The players could only laugh it off.

Anthony Griffin and Phil Gould watch on during the Penrith Panthers training.
Anthony Griffin and Phil Gould watch on during the Penrith Panthers training.

"It was a trial. We've got a few things we wanted to work on, a few system changes. Definitely no concerns," Campbell-Gillard said.

But the loss has compounded a horror few months for the club, which las lost star juniors Matt Moylan and Bryce Cartwright to rival clubs.

The pair had only signed long-term deals with the Panthers last year but were said to have been disgruntled with coach Griffin.

Neither Merrin nor Campbell-Gillard denied that suggestion when speaking on NRL 360.

But they denied there's a player revolt against the coach.

"There's no problem. I'm like you I hear a lot around the club, there's been a lot of chatter around the coaching staff or Hook not getting on with the players but to be very honest there's nothing wrong at all with the playing group or the coach," Merrin said.

"When a new coach comes into a system when you're used to something else for so long, not everyone's going to get the responses that they wanted from that coach.

"Obviously we had two players who didn't respond the best to a new coach coming on board and they've gone elsewhere."

There's also been suggestions Gould is actually coaching the team and has pushed Griffin to the side.

Paul Kent put that to the Penrith players on Monday night's program.

Campbell-Gillard answered the questioned without confirming or denying the claim.

"Gus is a massive influence in rugby league and for us. He's in training nearly every day helping us," Campbell-Gillard said.

"Full credit to Hook, he's there learning from Gus and all the experience he's had, so I think it's been really healthy for our club."

Penrith entered last season as premiership favourites but had a horror start to the year and almost missed finals altogether.

With Moylan and Cartwright out the door and signs of rot setting in at the foot of the mountains, they enter 2018 as an unknown quantity.