Gould proves he's the man at Penrith

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Phil Gould’s decision to re-sign with Penrith until the end of 2017 gets rid of the elephant in the room at the Panthers.

It had been widely accepted that Gould’s tenure at Penrith would end sooner rather than later, but that presented somewhat of a problem.

Firstly, had Gould left this year, it would have been like a chef leaving his recipe and all the ingredients on the table, but asking someone else to cook the main meal and be responsible for it.

Not the best of looks.

Secondly, there’s a whole bunch of people both on and off the field who came to Penrith because of Gould’s influence, and for him not to be there for the long haul just wouldn’t have felt right.

In short, had Gould left before top level success hit (and that doesn’t necessarily mean a premiership) it would have fed the haters – he would have copped the blame if it all went wrong yet none of the praise if it went right.

His decision to stick it out for another four years is further proof that Gould’s return to Penrith is bearing fruit.

Yes, results on the park in 2014 will be a significant factor in Gould’s plan coming to fruition but two and a half years into the job, it’s hard to fault the bloke now that all the cards are on the table.

Four year plans don’t look so bad when you’re at the tail end of them, do they?

That’s not to say there hasn’t been times along the way when the foundations were shaken a little.

After all, on Gould’s watch, two consecutive captains were allowed to walk out the door in the shape of Petero Civoniceva and Luke Lewis.

The full story on the latter has yet to be told but we can safely say Penrith is better for it in the long run.

Gould also let Michael Jennings – probably the only ticket-selling player at the club at the time – go to the Roosters and then faced criticism over the removal of the word ‘Penrith’ from the club’s official logo.

It hasn’t been an easy ride.

But like all good stories, you need to ride through the dust before you get to the smoother roads.

Fast forward to present day and the club is being considered a premiership force, and not just by Panthers fans.

If nothing else, Gould has helped restore a respect for Penrith that has been missing since the side won its last first grade competition a decade ago.

Securing the services of Jamie Soward, Jamal Idris, Peter Wallace, Elijah Taylor and Brent Kite would have been nearly impossible without Gould’s influence.

As would have the involvement of people like James Packer and sponsors like OAK.

I don’t think we’ve realised yet, either, how significant Ivan Cleary will be at Penrith as head coach.

And then of course there’s the work off the field that continues to play a significant role in building Penrith into a powerhouse; work that is also being undertaken by Warren Wilson who has proven to by a real winner at the club.

The real test now comes on the field in 2014 and with the club’s first trial just eight days away, the nerves are starting to build.

It would be wrong to say this is a “2003 feeling” – nobody could have predicted that breakout season.

But you could say it has a very 1990 feel about it. Yes, Penrith lost the Grand Final that year but the club had been building for several years and was on the brink of a successful period.

How ironic that it was Gould who was in charge, as coach, during that successful period in the early 1990’s.

Things have indeed come full circle and while the ride has been tough along the way over the last couple of years, the fullness of time has revealed a side ready to threaten for its third premiership much sooner than anyone could have predicted.

It is only right that Gould be there when that premiership finally does come.

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