Could Phil Gould become part of Sharks folklore?

Caroline Layt Roar Rookie

By Caroline Layt, Caroline Layt is a Roar Rookie

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    It all started six months ago, when the Cronulla Sharks finally won the NRL rugby league premiership at after 49 years of trying.

    The midweek Amco Cup trophy was all that was in the Sharks’ top grade trophy cabinet before then. Runners-up three times – in 1973, 1978 and 1997 – was the closest the Sharks came to winning the NRL premiership, and unfortunately you don’t win a trophy for finishing second.

    But everything changed on the evening of October 2, 2016, at ANZ Stadium.

    The saying that ‘there’s always next season’, which had been uttered by Sharks fans for 48 previous frustrating seasons, was finally no more.

    After leaving the Sharks during the 1980s, legendary coach Jack Gibson infamously said, “Waiting for Cronulla to win a premiership is like leaving the porch lamp on for Harold Holt”.

    But the impossible did happen, and everyone in the Shire was ecstatic about the premiership win.

    Enter premiership-winning coach and Channel Nine commentator Phil ‘Gus’ Gould, who decided to give the Sharks a reality check with his sobering assessment of their premiership win.

    Despite winning 15-straight premiership matches during 2016, the Sharks were “soft” premiers, Gould said on his Six Tackles with Gus podcast.

    Six Sharks players represented New South Wales in State of Origin and three represented the Australian Kangaroos last season, but that mattered little to Gould.

    The Sharks beat the Canberra Raiders during week one of the finals and then demolished the 2015 premiers, the North Queensland Cowboys, in the qualifying final. They won the grand final beating the Melbourne Storm 14-12 as deserved NRL premiers. Gould remained unconvinced.

    Gould reasoned further that the Roosters and Sea Eagles, traditional NRL powerhouses, weren’t there at the death due to indifferent early season form and due to other teams being tired towards the end of last season, despite there being no Four Nations tournament the previous year.

    (Photo: AAP Image/David Moir)

    It didn’t matter one iota to Gould that the North Queensland Cowboys and perennial semi-finalists Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs, Brisbane Broncos and Melbourne Storm were all there during the finals series.

    Gould is coaching coordinator at the Penrith Panthers, who were eliminated in the second week of the finals, and one wonders how he would have viewed a Panthers victory.

    Sharks coach Shane Flanagan wondered as much, telling the Sydney Morning Herald, “I am filthy with Gus saying we won a soft competition.

    “You could find 100 takes from Gus during the year about how tough this competition is. When the Panthers were playing the Bulldogs at the SFS he was saying ‘what a great competition’ and ‘it’s the hardest competition in the world’.

    “All of a sudden the Panthers get rissoled and it’s the weakest comp in the world. I thought it was poor form.”

    Does Gus have an agenda against the Sharks? As a journalism student, I tried to get to the bottom of it.

    I tweeted Gus: “Just asking @Gus10Gould was Roosters title soft-due to Bulldogs demise 2002?”

    A response was quickly forthcoming from the Panthers coaching coordinator: “Indeed. Goes to show some competitions are more competitive than others. I said as much at the time. What’s your point?”

    Well at least Gould with his “indeed” comment indicated his own 2002 Roosters were also “soft” premiers due to the demise of the competition frontrunners, the Bulldogs, on account of salary cap issues that year.

    Other than his tweet answering my question, there is no further evidence of his own Roosters winning a “soft competition”, and he didn’t elaborate further.

    Gould’s comments may prove to be prophetic indeed, but not in the way he would have liked. He gave the Sharks plenty of ammunition, and if they were in a hangover phase this year, that has now passed.

    The challenge now is to stay healthy with minimal injuries to overcome the World Club Challenge curse and around-the-world travel associated with that.

    Last year, the Sharks asked “Why not us?”. They should ask that same question again in 2017.

    If they do manage to win back-to-back premierships for the first time since the Brisbane Broncos in 1992-93, they may invite Gould into the changerooms to celebrate their win – which would make Gus’s podcast its own larger-than-life story sufficient to win his way into Sharks history in the same way Holt and Gibson did.

    Big Jack would have a wry smile on his face as Gould joins him and Holt in Cronulla folklore if the Sharks once again sing their victory song Up, Up Cronulla after another grand final victory. You heard it here first.

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    The Crowd Says (32)

    • May 19th 2017 @ 4:12am
      Wascally Wabbit said | May 19th 2017 @ 4:12am | ! Report

      Gould coached the Bulldogs to a Premiership in 1988, then the Panthers to their maiden Premiership in 1991.
      He coached the Roosters in the late ’90s, walking out on his unfinished contract.
      Ricky Stuart was in charge of the Roosters in 2002.
      That’s probably why he asked you – What’s your point?

    • May 19th 2017 @ 5:31am
      Sammy said | May 19th 2017 @ 5:31am | ! Report

      Gould was Director of Coaching at the Roosters in 2002.

    • Roar Rookie

      May 19th 2017 @ 8:06am
      Squidward said | May 19th 2017 @ 8:06am | ! Report

      I’ll tell you what the premiership has been mighty tough for his panthers in their 6th year if his 5 year plan!

    • Roar Rookie

      May 19th 2017 @ 8:24am
      Conan of Cooma said | May 19th 2017 @ 8:24am | ! Report

      Gould is already a part of Sharks folklore, ever since he was coaching the Panthers in the mid-90’s and brought them to Shark Park for a game.

      Sharks won 36-0 and Phil Gould was sent off by the ref. Yes, you read that right, the Panthers coach was sent from the field into the sheds. You should have heard us howling and banging on the advertising panels around the field.

    • May 19th 2017 @ 8:59am
      Beastie said | May 19th 2017 @ 8:59am | ! Report

      The Sharks won in their 50th year, not 49th. Don’t believe their bull about this being their 50th year, they just can’t count. They started in the NSWRL comp in 1967.

      • Roar Rookie

        May 19th 2017 @ 9:12am
        Conan of Cooma said | May 19th 2017 @ 9:12am | ! Report

        It’s not “their” bull, the Sharks have made it known that this year is their 50th anniversary, not their 50th season. They changed what aspect they were celebrating so as to not detract from Penrith celebrating their 50th season last year.

        • May 19th 2017 @ 9:37am
          Nanco said | May 19th 2017 @ 9:37am | ! Report

          Fair Dinkum – who cares what he says – its fluff

      • Roar Rookie

        May 19th 2017 @ 9:48am
        Squidward said | May 19th 2017 @ 9:48am | ! Report

        Beastie. You need to do some research before writing such silly things.
        Conan has schooled you

    • May 19th 2017 @ 9:35am
      The eye said | May 19th 2017 @ 9:35am | ! Report

      It’s Gus’ opinion..more surprising that anyone overly cares about his view on that..particularly Flanno.

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