Phil Gould is continuing to see the fruits of his labour at Penrith, despite leaving the club over three years ago.
It’s no secret that Gus was at the centre of the club’s long rebuild over a decade ago, with his ‘five-year plan’ becoming more of a decade-long journey towards success.
But that success is now there for all to see, after the Panthers won their second-straight NRL premiership with a convincing win over Parramatta.
The reigning champions started fast and took an 18-0 lead into the break at Accor Stadium, before crossing for another two tries in the second-half and completing a 28-12 victory.
Speaking on Channel Nine after the match, Gould spoke of his delight for his former club and their fans, as well as the growth of the squad in recent years.
“I particularly feel happy for the Panthers fans tonight – the last two years were COVID-affected and they didn’t get to see the grand final live last year,” he said.
“To be here and experience a night like this, for the club to be so resoundingly brilliant on the game day and beat their local neighbours so convincingly on the scoreboard.
“You see the scenes here, these are the things that grab me. All these blokes came to us as teenagers, most of them. Now they have got wives, families, kids, houses, cars – they have grown up as a group of players together.
“One telling factor that I saw leading into this game is that 13 of this 17 not only came through the Panthers academy, but have played 100 per cent of the NRL football with the once club.
“That is an extraordinary statistic, and to think that this club has produced not only more NRL players over the last 10 years, but more representative-class players [than any other club].”
Gus’ plan worked. ✅
— NRL on Nine (@NRLonNine) October 2, 2022
Gould laid the foundation for the Panthers and their academy, which has allowed superstars like Nathan Cleary, Jarome Luai and Brian To’o to make their way through the junior system and all the way into first grade and rep football.
With a majority of the players in the Penrith top squad either local juniors from the district or players who moved from regional areas as teenagers, it shows the importance of developing talent as well as signing marquee players.
Penrith also won the SG Ball, Jersey Flegg and NSW Cup competitions, which prompted Gould to issue a major warning to the rest of the competition.
“This year, to win all four of the senior representative competitions, plus the NRL, shows that it is just the beginning,” he said.
“This isn’t the end of it, this is the start of it. It really is a strong club, it is set up better than any other and they deserve everything they get.
“The key to it is having good people – the academy is not the bricks and mortar, the academy is the people that work within it. The academy is an inspiration for all kids in western Sydney and western NSW.
“Every demographic of our western Sydney culture is represented in this team – all the way from Dubbo down into the heart of the Penrith and Blacktown area.”
Gould will now look to pull off a similar rebuild at Canterbury, where he is acting as the club’s general manager of football.