A major coaching shake-up could be on the cards at the Panthers with Assistant Coach Trent Barrett set for a shock mid-season switch to Manly.
Fairfax Media is reporting that Barrett is on the verge of joining the Sea Eagles as an assistant to Geoff Toovey, who is under enormous pressure to keep his job.
While the Panthers offer more stability for Barrett, Toovey’s precarious position means the former Origin and Australian representative could be in with a shot of taking over the first grade side next season, or in 2017.
Fairfax Media reports that negotiations have been underway for the past two months and Barrett could head to the Northern Beaches as early as next month.
The reports come less than 24 hours after rumours emerged that head coach Ivan Cleary was spotted having coffee with a “very influential Manly figure”, sparking speculation that Cleary himself may be in talks with the Sea Eagles.
Rumours about Manly making a play for Cleary have been around since before the start of the season.
Yesterday, Panthers boss Phil Gould emphatically hosed down the speculation.
“Ivan Cleary is very happy at Panthers. He and his coaching team are doing a wonderful job. I see no end point to his current tenure,” Gould told the Weekender.
“Ivan still has a lot of work to do at this club. The idea of Ivan coaching anywhere other than Panthers has never been raised.”
The Weekender understands, and reported several weeks ago, that Cleary is in fact likely to sign a contract extension before the end of this season, rather than considering a switch to Manly.
The Weekender also understands that Panthers would not stand in the way of Barrett making a mid-season switch to Manly. It is known that Gould does not want to hinder the prospect of one of the club’s junior coaches earning a first grade spot.
“Trent Barrett is a young coach with great potential,” Gould said yesterday.
“I believe he is an NRL coach of the future.”
Meanwhile, Gould has also addressed rumours about his own future, saying he has no intention of leaving the club at the end of the year.
“I have no intention or desire to leave the club any time soon,” he said.
– Troy Dodds