Rugby league: New Zealand Warriors forced to reduce Phil Gould’s role in shock move

The Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs have appointed rugby league icon Phil Gould as their new General Manager of Football with immediate effect.

The shock appointment comes after the Warriors were forced to significantly modify Gould’s consultancy role due to “ongoing challenges brought about by the Covid-19 crisis”.

On Friday evening, Warriors chief executive Cameron George confirmed the club had allowed Gould to pursue other opportunities, and the Bulldogs announced the coup soon after.

While Gould will remain working with the Warriors, it will be in a significantly reduced role.

“It’s hugely disappointing but it has been extremely difficult if not impossible for Gus to provide us with his presence either in New Zealand or in our NRL bubble in Australia, ” George said in a statement.

“He’ll continue to offer advice to our pathways staff on request which will allow him to commit to work closer to home in Sydney without the challenges we’re experiencing.

“If Gus chooses to work with another NRL club he does so with our support.”

Bulldogs chair John Khoury said Gould’s appointment was “phenomenal news” for the club.

“Phil has a proud association with the Bulldogs, having played for the club before going on to coach the 1988 Premiership winning side,” Khoury said in a statement.

“He was already part of an amazing run of success that the club had during the eighties and his influence during his time here is something that our fans will always be grateful for.

“Phil has a great relationship with Head Coach Trent Barrett and we firmly believe that he can help to drive us forward to getting back to where we need to be, namely as a Premiership contender once again.”

Gould represented the Bulldogs in 40 first grade games between 1983 and 1985 before coaching the club to a premiership season in 1988.

Speaking on Fox League, Penrith Panthers legend Greg Alexander called the appointment “huge news”.

“Gus was obviously a player at the Bulldogs, he coached the Bulldogs to a premiership in ’88, so he’s got that bulldogs DNA in him,” Alexander said.

“He’s a unique character, there’s not many people in the game who can cover as many jobs as Gus.”

Former Bulldogs player Braith Anasta responded: “I think it’s a great decision. He gets the Bulldogs way, he really does. He knows what it takes to be a Bulldog.

“He’s one of the brightest minds and one of the most intelligent football brains in the business.”

The Bulldogs have been without a head of football since Steve Price was axed last year.

Gould thanks Khoury and the Board for the “wonderful opportunity”, vowing to return the Bulldogs back to the top of the NRL ladder.

“I look forward to meeting everyone at the club and working with them to set a course for the future of the Canterbury Bulldogs,” Gould said in a statement.

“I played with the Bulldogs. This club gifted me my first ever coaching appointment back in 1986. To be returning to the Bulldogs many years later, in this role, is truly exciting.

“I look forward to rekindling old friendships, making new friendships, and enjoying the club’s journey back to the top of the National Rugby League.”

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