Former Panthers general manager of football Phil Gould.
Former Panthers general manager of football Phil Gould.

Gould responds to Penrith CEO's comments on Bennett

FORMER Penrith general manager of football Phil Gould has responded to comments made by Panthers chief executive Dave O'Neill regarding the failed bid to bring Wayne Bennett to the club.

O'Neill gave an interview to The Daily Telegraph on Monday in which he rubbished Gould's bid to lure Bennett to the Panthers.

"There was never, ever a deal to the board or senior management regarding Wayne Bennett coming to this club," O'Neill told The Daily Telegraph.

"It was a throwaway line from Phil Gould in a conversation with the executive that he could possibly get Wayne Bennett here for a couple of years. That was it.

"It was never, ever put to the board, never, ever put to senior management regarding a time frame, a dollar figure, absolutely nothing. I never saw a piece of paper with a deal on it.

"I took it to the board when we were discussing Ivan Cleary and we talked about a back-up plan. I told them Gus had a throwaway line about getting Bennett, and the board took about two seconds to say 'no way in the world, not interested'.

"The board gets dirty when we hear we could have had Bennett over Ivan. It's a whole heap of bulls---.

"Whether they like me or not, I don't care. Everything we are doing here is in the best interests of this club."

The issue was raised on Channel 9's 100% Footy Show with Gould in the room.

Asked to respond, Gould said: "I'm not going to respond to anything that's in that column. Dave O'Neill's a mate of mine and I can understand the sort of stress and pressure he's under. I don't want to respond to any of the comments that are in there.

"What I'd like to see is the team show real unity and real strength and just get back to playing really good football. You don't lose your ability to play the game, you lose your ability to think straight."

Asked to give his view on the Panthers' mauling at the hands of the Wests Tigers on Friday, Gould said: " It was bizarre what we saw on Friday night. Hopefully that's bottomed it out, that's rock bottom. They need to concentrate on playing good football."

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