The Canterbury Bulldogs have received a major boost with the acquisition of rugby league great Phil Gould, who will take over as the club’s new General Manager of Football.
Gould will now depart the New Zealand Warriors after having spent the past year with the club as a consultant.
The former Blues coach was heavily courted by Bulldogs earlier this season, who had sounded him out for a high-ranking role before Gould opted to remain with the Warriors at the time.
However, Gould revealed due to the recent relocations of clubs to Queensland and the uncertainty of the New Zealand travel bubble with a number of states in Australia, it made sense to focus on a role closer to home.
“Because of COVID, the things I had been wanting to do with the Warriors was impossible,” Gould told Nine.
“We had lockdowns, bubbles, I couldn’t get across to New Zealand.
“Finally the bubble was opening up around Magic Round, and I went to New Zealand that week. I went over their twice and we’ve put the framework in place for a new Warriors academy and some pathway programs over there… So I declined the Bulldogs’ [first] offer because it felt like we were getting some traction and starting to get COVID again.
“But then COVID, lockdown, bubbles have stopped, teams being relocated and I haven’t seen the Warriors coaches or players in eight or nine weeks. It was just getting too hard.
“I spoke to [Warriors owner] Mark Robinson when this second offer came through… we agreed this could be going on for a long time, and that I should be working closer to home.
“One of the things about this second approach from the Bulldogs was they said to me they had no problem with me having an association with the Warriors… and I still want to be part of that and I’m committed to the Warriors that if they ever need anything, I’m there for them.
“But it just made sense. It made sense for the Warriors and me too.
“The opportunity to come back to my old club, the Bulldogs, who I had an association with back in the 80s and to take on a very challenging role. It’s a great opportunity.”
Gould’s acquisition follows the signing of new coach Trent Barrett, who is currently in his first season with the club.
While the Bulldogs have faced a tough season, currently sitting at the bottom of the table, Gould said the focus for Canterbury right now is to make the most of what the club has with its roster.
“At the moment, our priority is to make the best of what we’ve got at the moment,” he said.
“To make sure the young fellas that are on our roster, get every opportunity to be the best they can be in their career.”
Gould’s storied history in rugby league as a player, coach, commentator, writer and administrator is well documented.
He was just 30 when he guided the Bulldogs to a title as coach in 1988 before adding another premiership ring to his hand in 1991 with Penrith. He’s also the most successful NSW Blues coach in history with six Origin series wins.
Prior to his stint with the Warriors, Gould famously spent eight years with the Panthers as their General Manager of Football, in which he had a huge hand in developing the current Penrith roster due to his involvement in pathways.