‘Leave That Conspiracy Open’: Gould’s Denials Lead to Fittler to Bulldogs Rumors

Phil Gould’s denial of talks with the Bulldogs’ potential next coach has led to rumors that Blues coach Brad Fittler has already agreed to the job.

Gould revealed that he has considering the next Bulldogs coach’s appointment “no thought” and refused to make offers or hold talks with potential coaches about the position.

However, Paul Kent believes Gould has contradicted himself with comments he made after Trent Barrett was fired, meaning he probably has a candidate in mind or at the very least has spoken to potential Barrett successors.

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“The day he fired Trent Barrett, he said the phone was ringing, so I don’t know what’s going on there,” Kent told NRL 360.

“We all know that Shane Flanagan has shown interest in the track and wants the track. Apparently Cameron Ciraldo has expressed his lack of interest in the track so it certainly looks like feelers have been put in place.

“The other thing is that he said he wants a coach by September. So are we waiting for Brad Fittler to finalize his commitments with Origin before deciding who the Canterbury job could be? Or are they going to wait until the last week of September and then make a decision?

“Why not be there now as part of your job description, basically starting with the candidate peeling and who is available? Who’s ready? Who is right for the job? Who is not suitable for the job?”

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Phil Gould denies talking to anyone about Bulldogs coaching position.Source: The Daily Telegraph

Paul Crawley doubts Gould would have overlooked Barrett’s departure without at least having a successor in mind.

“It’s hard to believe a word that comes out of his mouth because he said that and today he said there have been no calls,” Crawley said.

“We are on the road for two weeks.”

Braith Anasta believes Gould’s denials have fueled speculation surrounding Fittler who might take the job.

“It left that conspiracy open to Freddy because of the lack of talk or noise around coaches,” Anasta said.

Kent explained that both Fittler and Gould’s comments about the position raise the possibility of the Blues coach taking over after the Origin series.

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Brad Fittler has denied interest in Bulldogs position.Source: Getty Images

“It makes sense if Brad Fittler has already heard about it,” said Kent.

“That would be a private conversation between Gould and Fittler.

“Fittler has been telling people around the game that he has some interest in coaching in the NRL again.

“But when he was told about coaching Canterbury specifically, he came back with ‘I have a job with Channel 9 and I have a job with the Blues and that’s it.

“After that period, he wouldn’t talk anymore, so we just wait until the end of the Origin period before that becomes the talk? That’s how it used to be.”

Dave Riccio believes the Tigers are taking a leaf out of the Bulldogs book by getting an answer from their next coach before calling Michael Maguire.

“I think the Tigers are learning from what the Bulldogs are doing here,” Riccio said.

“I don’t think the Tigers will attack Madge until they have their answer, knowing the Bulldogs don’t have theirs.”

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Kent noted that Gould has no history of firing coaches without having a replacement in mind.

“You don’t get rid of a coach until you know who you’re going to replace him with,” said Kent.

“Phil Gould has never lost a coach in his life and had no one in mind.

“When he lost Ivan Cleary the first time, he just went out and got Anthony Griffin. He has not had an interview for the job.

“He just went to talk to Anthony Griffin and liked what he heard and gave him the job. Then he fired him. That’s how it works.”

Crawley believes Gould has a coach in his sights but warned that delaying his appointment will make it very difficult for the Bulldogs recruiting department as the team continues to struggle.

“He’s clearly not a dumb man and if he’s letting Trent Barrett walk out the door, he clearly has another option in mind and needs to be confident that he’s getting that person,” Crawley said.

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“But it’s so important for Canterbury fans and their members to see what’s happening right now.

“Josh Addo-Carr just dropped out of the NSW side because he plays for the Bulldogs. That’s what happened. Matt Burton wasn’t on the call because he plays with the Bulldogs.

“So from a recruiting perspective in Canterbury and Gus is talking about having all this money available in 2024, what rep player or future rep player with half a lead would want to go to the Bulldogs knowing that this is the end of your representative career could be if you go there?”

However, Anasta believes that representative players would want to play for Fittler after having an association with him at the Origin level.

“If Freddy is there, they might go there,” Anasta said.

Crawley also questioned reports linking Maguire to the Bulldogs’ position, thinking it would be a tough pill to swallow for long-suffering Canterbury fans.

“How could that be?” Crawley said when asked if the rumors were true.

“You have a team that is 16th in Canterbury and has just knocked out Trent Barrett.

“And then to try and sell you want to recruit the coach of the 15th seeded team and their coach is marched out the door.

“If Maguire has been there for four years and the team has not shown any signs of improvement, I don’t know how you can sell that to Canterbury fans.”

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