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Penrith Panthers have made the extraordinary call to sack coach Anthony Griffin with just four games remaining before the NRL finals.

Griffin, who took the reins at the club ahead of the 2016 season, was contracted until the end of 2020. Highly-rated assistant coach Cameron Ciraldo will be the Panthers’ caretaker coach for the remainder of the current campaign.

Speculation has been rife about Griffin’s future at Penrith since the pre-season, with the former Brisbane coach reportedly at odds with club supremo Phil Gould. But Gould had repeatedly denied the rumours of Griffin’s impending axing – as recently as last month.

“Head coaching is a very difficult job,” Gould said on Monday night.

“Head coaches have to rely heavily on the opinions of others and to have a more collaborative and communicative relationship with those that assist.

“Anthony was a little old school in that he liked to do everything by himself.

“I think he took too much on, too much pressure and at times that led to some poor results.”

Panthers Group CEO Brian Fletcher released the following statement:

“There has been much speculation and rumours about the club and head coach Anthony Griffin over the last few weeks.

“After discussions with Anthony Griffin it is time to end that speculation. By mutual agreement, the club and Anthony have agreed to part ways, effective immediately.

“Anthony departs the club after much success, having taken the Panthers to the finals in the last two years and leaves the club on track for another finals appearance in 2018.

“We would like to thank Anthony for his service to Panthers and wish him well for the future.”

Attention now turns to who will take on the Panthers head coach role in 2019, with Ciraldo, Michael Maguire, Trent Barrett (despite Gould’s denials) and even Wayne Bennett and Ivan Cleary, Griffin’s predecessor, spruiked as possibilities.

Penrith face Gold Coast away on Saturday before a home clash with Newcastle and road trips to take on the Warriors and Melbourne.


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