Penrith is facing the prospect of becoming the first club to overshoot the NRLs new football department spending limit due to its coaching overhaul.
The Panthers are hoping to poach Ivan Cleary from Wests Tigers, who wont come cheap after Phil Gould axed him less than three years ago. The Tigers have no intention of letting him go but, if he wanted out of Concord, they will likely demand compensation given he still has another two years to run on his contract.
As they can sign Nathan Cleary from November 1, the Tigers hold all the cards and are in a position to demand a seven-figure compensation fee to part with their coach.
Penrith is already facing a $1 million-plus payout to Griffin, who left via “mutual agreement” with two seasons remaining on his contract. Whoever replaces him will likely want to bring in his own staffers, which could lead to more hiring and payout fees.
The football spending cap is $5.7 million for this season, rising to $6.1 million in 2020. Clubs have got until 2020 to get under the limit, meaning Penrith could potentially sneak under if they tighten their belts over the next two years.
Clubs that overspend will have to pay a tax of 37.5 per cent for every dollar they go over, meaning the decision to sack and replace Griffin could become an even costlier one.
Alternate father-son package deal?
If Penrith is hell-bent on completing a coach-playmaker package deal, they could do worse than look to Cronulla.
While the Panthers are hoping to lure Ivan Cleary – a move that would secure the services of his son, Origin halfback Nathan – there is another father-son combo that could solve their problems.
Sharks coach Shane Flanagan has only one more year to run on his deal and his son, Kyle, is a first-grade playmaker in waiting. Kyle isnt far away from making his NRL debut and, while it remains to be seen whether he is as good as Nathan, the word is hes a special talent.
Significantly, coach Flanagan is managed by Wayne Beavis, who is extremely close to Panthers supremo Phil Gould.
Marshall and Farah not seeing Cleary
Penriths pursuit of Ivan Cleary has muddied the futures of Robbie Farah and Benji Marshall.
The veterans are yet to make a call on their future, with Farah in particular hinting he is keen to play on.
While Cleary is amenable to them continuing, the players and the club want to know what the coach is doing before making a call on the playmakers.
Theres no point in them re-signing only to find they are answering to a new coach who doesnt see them as part of the future.
Griffin's NRL days appear over
He leaves Penrith with an almost unmatched winning record, but its unlikely Anthony Griffin will be a head coach again in the NRL.
Griffin left the Panthers after taking them to three straight finals series, finishing his stint at the foot of the mountains with a winning percentage of 58.3 per cent. To put that in perspective, the record of the preferred replacement, Ivan Cleary, is 48 per cent. Another coach who is safe despite also missing the semis, Ricky Stuart, is 49 per cent.
Despite Griffins credentials, its unlikely he will be in high demand in the NRL. Premiership-winning coaches Des Hasler and Michael Maguire remain on the sidelines, while Wayne Bennett – despite his seven titles – hasnt been able to secure work long term.
Griffins best chance of plying his trade is in the Super League. Were hearing the broom could be swept through the staff at Leeds Rhinos, opening up a potential opportunity.
Sydney clubs in supremo battle
Parramatta is on the lookout for a head of football to help them out of the doldrums, and Manly could soon follow suit.
The Eels are currently reviewing their football department and one of the aims is to find someone to oversee it, akin to Phil Gould's role at Penrith. As it stands, Parramatta CEO Bernie Gurr doubles as the head of football, but the newly created role will allow Gurr to oversee the running of the business, while the footy boss will allow Brad Arthur to focus on coaching the side.
Manly is also without a footy boss after Bob Fulton retired. The Silvertails are in the process of bolstering their back-office staff with a series of appointments that include a recruiter/list manager, a pathways coach and a welfare and education officer.
However, serious consideration is being given to appointing an NRL director of football to assist Trent Barrett and oversee all aspects of the footy program. With few high-calibre candidates that fit the bill, the arch-rivals could be in a battle to get in first.
Gorman not resting on laurels
Manly CEO Lyall Gorman has hit out at suggestions he escaped for a mid-season holiday.
In a letter to members, Gorman denied rumours hed applied for the Dragons CEO job and explained his recent overseas trip.
“With the full blessing of the board, I took my 16-year-old son to the UK following invitations for him to trial for various English football clubs and spent a few days with him to help him acclimatise before leaving him there on his own,” Gorman wrote. “To suggest I abandoned our club is both extremely disappointing and the furthest thing from the truth.”
Bears boast backers
They may no longer hold an NRL franchise, but the North Sydney Bears can still drag plenty of big hitters to their annual luncheon.
More than 50 corporates, including multinational firm Aeon, attended Fridays shindig, as well as 20 corporate partners. The Bears still have more than 230,000 avid fans and are hopeful of an NRL comeback if they can partner with another franchise in an expanded competition.