Geyer rubbishes Griffin's toxic Gus conspiracy
PENRITH great Mark Geyer has shut down Anthony Griffin's suggestion that part of the reason Phil Gould sacked him was because he was worried Penrith would win the premiership this year under his leadership.
In his damning appearance on Fox League's NRL 360 on Wednesday night, Griffin took a swipe at Gould and rejected several claims made by the Panthers supremo in the wake of the coach's axing this week.
Gould said Griffin didn't consult his assistant coaches enough and had lost the support of the players.
Griffin denied those accusations, saying instead he was shown the door because he and Gould held completely different coaching philosophies and the former NSW mentor didn't want the side to be coached in the style Griffin wanted.
Griffin hinted he might have been sacked partly because if the Panthers - sitting equal fifth on the ladder - won the grand final, it would be much harder for Gould to justify getting rid of him.
"The timing is cruel … they are on the verge of winning a premiership this year, which is probably one of the reasons I'm not there," Griffin said.
Speaking on the Triple M Grill Team on Thursday, Newcastle legend Matty Johns said: "Anthony Griffin's saying basically their relationship was so bad that Gus feared Griffin was going to win the competition."
But Geyer disagreed with that accusation, saying Gould wanted a premiership as much as anyone and was desperate to see the Panthers hold the trophy aloft at the end of the season, no matter how they got there.
"I can't agree with that. Every year that Penrith get further away from winning the comp, it makes Gus's five-year plan look pretty ordinary, doesn't it," Geyer said. "Gus wants to win the comp as much as anybody."
Geyer said the Panthers couldn't have won the competition with Griffin still in charge this year, pointing to the team's defensive frailties as the main reason it could not match teams such as Melbourne and Souths.
"Defence is an attitude. If you really want to get stuck in and do something for your coach, you bash teams," Geyer said. "At the moment I don't see the team doing that for Anthony Griffin."
Griffin admitted some wrongdoing in his relationship breakdown with Gould and acknowledged there were things he would do differently if he had his time again, but was adamant he was responsible for a lot of the good things happening at Penrith.
He said when he turned up, the club was in dire straits and he believed the 2018 team was ahead of schedule after he was given the task of performing a rebuild.
Although Geyer said he felt for Griffin getting sacked just a month out from the finals, he wasn't buying the story that everything was Gould's fault.
"How many other things are part of Anthony Griffin's fault that we don't know about as well?" Geyer said.
"We've got to hear from (Penrith CEO) Brian Fletcher and (chairman) Dave O'Neill and the board. They've got to be more transparent … as Penrith fans we want to know where they're heading.
"It's easy for people to feel sorry for him (Griffin) but the cold, hard facts are this team on paper is a top-four team every day of the week.
"They're showing signs of vulnerability as far as defensive weaknesses go and that's going to hurt them when they play Melbourne, Brisbane and South Sydney."
Geyer also said Gould or someone from the club's executive needed to respond to Griffin's claims because they could not be the final word on the messy matter.
"I'm expecting a return serve from Gus. He's got to come out and say something now," Geyer said.
"It's in the best interests of the club to say something because we can't just let Anthony Griffin have the last word because if that's the last word we hear, that's quite damning."