Gould attempts to squash ‘ridiculous’ Bennett rumours
PANTHERS general manager Phil Gould has done his best to hush speculation Wayne Bennett is on his way to Penrith in 2019.
The Brisbane coach is believed to be looking for a new gig after a contract extension beyond 2019 was rejected by the Broncos board - fuelling rumours this will be his last season at the club.
After Panthers coach Anthony Griffin was sacked last week, and preferred replacement Ivan Cleary announced he would honour the two years remaining on his contract with the Wests Tigers, the club is on the hunt for a coach from 2019.
LIVE Stream every game of every round of the 2018 NRL Telstra Premiership on FOX SPORTS. SIGN UP NOW.
The situation seems to align perfectly for the games' most successful coach to land at Penrith.
However, speaking on Channel 9's 100% Footy on Monday night, Gould said he hasn't had any contact with the supercoach.
"I haven't heard from Wayne Bennett and I haven't heard from anyone associated with Wayne Bennett so it's ridiculous to even talk about that being an option. I don't know what Wayne is doing," he said.
"I don't know if he will be at the Broncos next year but I'm sure if Wayne is not there, he's got a plan. But he certainly hasn't told me what his plan is and I've had no contact with him, other than at the Immortals the other [night]."
Bennett and Gould are two of the most powerful men in rugby league, but the Panthers' boss said they would have no problem working together.
"I could work with anyone, whether he could work with me or not, I don't know," he said.
It's a storyline that just won't go away.
Commentator and former player Jimmy Smith said on Fox Sports' Bill and Boz on Monday the Panthers must sign a big name - and there is none bigger than the Broncos coach.
"If you don't think Cameron Ciraldo is the man to do it, then you need to get a big name to come in. They don't come much bigger than Wayne Bennett," he said.
"For every person who tells you that Wayne is going to the Panthers there's someone who will tell you that he's not going to the Panthers.
"But if you could assume that Ivan Cleary is going there in 2021 and you want to make sure Nathan [Cleary] stays there during that period of time, if you get a coach like Wayne Bennett to come in and coach them, you could ensure than Nathan stays and he's been well-coached during his two years there, and by the way coach Bennett, you could win a premiership with this bunch of players.
"Gee, that becomes attractive.
"From Phil Gould's point of view, if he could deliver Bennett, it justifies getting rid of Griffin."