NRL Expert @JennaBrooks
NRL Talking Points: Penrith sack coach, rumours persist about Sonny Bill Williams' return to NRL
Last Updated: 07/08/18 10:52am
Jenna Brooks has the latest as Penrith sack their coach and St George Illawarra find themselves in familiar territory. Plus could Sonny Bill Williams return to the 13-man code once again?
Penrith have sacked head coach Anthony Griffin.
With just four weeks until the finals, the Panthers are fifth on the ladder, and coming off a 40-31 win over Canberra, but the club told Griffin - who still had more than two years left on his contract - his services were no longer needed beyond this year.
Griffin, who has been linked with a move to Super League, decided to walk immediately, leaving assistant coach Cameron Ciraldo in charge for the remainder of the season.
Panthers general manager Phil Gould revealed the decision was made because the club didn't believe Griffin had what it took to lead the team to an NRL premiership.
"We made a decision that the club was going to take a change in coaching philosophy, from next year onwards. Once that decision was reached last week, I felt it was important to relay that to the coach straight away," Gould told Channel 9's 100% Footy.
Gould also said the club have someone in mind to replace Griffin, but are waiting on an answer. It's believed that 'someone' is Wests Tigers coach Ivan Cleary.
"We've already had 12 applications come in overnight from people within the game. Other assistant coaches and even some head coaches from other clubs," Gould said.
Trent Barrett, John Cartwright, Michael Maguire and Wayne Bennett have also been linked with the job.
They were the competition's early leaders but St George Illawarra's slide continues, after they lost their fourth match in five games.
They were beaten 18-12 by the Warriors, and are in danger of slipping out of the top four for the first time this year.
It was a similar story last year when the Dragons lost five of their last eight games, so it's no surprise questions are being asked of the players and head coach Paul McGregor.
"It's not going away until you win, is it," McGregor said. "I've got a different playing group and we're in a different position to what we have been before. I don't want to revisit it. Our vision's on what we need to do, not a revision.
"However, everyone's going to talk about it, it's going to be raised again, because we lost. There's nothing anyone can do except, when you go on the footy field and when you go to training, you work to fix your game."
As for the Warriors, the win has all but guaranteed their place in the finals for the first time in seven years.
Could Sonny Bill Williams return to rugby league once more?
Rumours continue to circulate suggesting the 33-year-old will return to the NRL for a third time.
When talking to Fox Sports, the New Zealand dual code international - who is studying to become a coach - has left the door open to return to the 13-man code after next year's Rugby World Cup.
"I'm just happy doing what I love doing," Williams said. "I'm really concentrating on things off the field.
"I'm studying for my coaching papers, so God willing I make it through next year and make the World Cup side, then after that, I have to keep the wife happy and then if I do play on it'll have to be at a place where I can still have a voice."
Williams and Roosters chairman Nick Politis are close friends, and if the rugby star returns, it's almost certain he would re-join the Roosters.
"Pretty much as soon as I left rugby (in 2008) we started that conversation. We came to a mutual agreement, call it a handshake agreement if you like, that if I did come back to rugby league (in 2012) it would be with the Roosters.
"Me and Nick go back a long way, we're just like family," Williams said.