Phil Gould has rejected an approach from Canterbury to leave the Warriors and take on the role of GM of football with the Bulldogs next season because of his passion for helping the New Zealand club to become a premiership force.
Canterbury CEO Aaron Warburton has confirmed Gould was among a number of candidates sounded out about the job and Bulldogs chairman John Khoury even phoned Warriors owner Mark Robinson to ask about the possibility of the former premiership-winning mentor switching clubs.
Gould, who guided Canterbury to the 1988 premiership in his first season of coaching, performed a similar role at Penrith and has been credited for helping to turn the Panthers into NRL title contenders by focusing heavily on developing junior talent.
The Bulldogs are struggling at the bottom of the Telstra Premiership ladder but the club is rebuilding under new coach Trent Barrett and will next season be strengthened by the arrival of Melbourne superstar Josh Addo-Carr and Penrith duo Matt Burton and Brent Naden.
As a result, the GM of football position would be an attractive proposition for someone like Gould, who has a long association with Canterbury as a player and coach in 1988 and 1989, before taking Penrith to the grand final in 1990 and the club’s first premiership in 1991.
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The Channel Nine commentator and former NSW Origin coach is understood to have met Bulldogs officials during Magic Round in Brisbane, but Warriors CEO Cameron George said Gould wanted to continue his work developing pathways for the club and the game in New Zealand.
"Gus told myself and Nathan Brown about their approach, and he spoke to Mark Robinson with me as well," George said.
"We respectfully allowed him to speak to the Bulldogs, but it was very apparent to me how passionate he is and that he shares that commitment that Mark and I and others have for our future.
"He really believes in it and as a result he knocked the Dogs back and decided not to proceed any further with them.
"We even had phone calls from their chairman directly to the owner and despite that Gus is still staying with us. He is absolutely committed to us."
Gould tweeted: "[The] Bulldogs did approach me some weeks ago regarding a possible role with the club. I informed Bulldog Chairman John Khoury early last week that I could not accept the very kind offer. I’m very committed to my role with NZ Warriors and the long term vision we share".
Warburton said Canterbury would continue their search.
"The club has had preliminary discussions with Phil Gould, as we have done so with a number of other candidates for the GM of Football role," Warburton said.
"That’s as far as conversations have progressed. Phil is currently contracted with the Warriors, so at this stage there is nothing else to report."
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Gould travelled to New Zealand last week for the first time in his role with the Warriors to meet in person many of the people he had been dealing with via Zoom and email, including Stacey Jones and Tony Iro, who are involved with development and pathways for the club.
He also recorded a lengthy interview with Sky Sports League Insider program, which went to air this week.
"A lot of what we had hoped to do in the initial stages around Warriors rugby league and rugby league in New Zealand has been curtailed by COVID and the fact we had border restrictions and couldn’t get across there," Gould said.
"When the bubble opened I took what advantage I could to come across and meet people that I had been conversing with via Zoom and email, who are very passionate people in New Zealand in rugby league and stakeholders in the game here.
"I wanted to get an idea of the history of the relationship and where they thought rugby league in New Zealand was headed and what part the Warriors could play in that."