Controlling Gus to coach Penrith: Griffin

Anthony Griffin has turned the heat on Phil Gould to deliver the premiership he promised Penrith fans six years ago after being sacked by the “jealous” Panthers supremo a month out from the NRL finals.

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Griffin scored a unanimous win over Gould in the PR battle with a dignified appearance on Fox Sports’ NRL 360 barely 48 hours after being unceremoniously cut by the Panthers supremo.

“If I can just say one thing, I really wish the Panthers all the best,” Griffin said in a heartfelt message to his former charges.

“There’s obviously some really good days ahead for that club and for the players and the staff out there, I’d love nothing more than to see them win a trophy this year.

“So, as hard as it would be to watch, I wish them all the best.”

The 51-year-old’s touching tribute to a dressing room that his boss claimed the coach had lost came after Griffin accused Gould of being a control freak who craved to be in charge when Penrith next won the competition.

“The main thing that hurts me the most is that I think they’re on the verge of winning a premiership this year, which is probably one of the reasons I’m not there,” Griffin said.

“Clearly we don’t get on. It’s the main reason I’m sitting in here and not coaching. We don’t get on.

“It wouldn’t be unusual to go a month or six weeks not sitting down and having a chat. We had to operate.

“After we beat Manly I sensed things weren’t right. The silence gets deafening when you’re on the outer.

“I didn’t anticipate it would be Monday. I thought we’d sort it out at the end of the year.

“(But) I understand the business is brutal.”

Despite Cameron Ciraldo’s appointment as coach for the rest of 2018, Griffin has no doubt Gould will take charge of the finals-bound Panthers in pursuit of title glory.

“He just needs to be in control,” Griffin said.

“Gus runs the club – and I say that with all due respect to everyone out there – but he runs the club. He makes all the decisions.

“So now that I’m not there, it’s probably a breath of fresh air from that end (for Gould). I don’t think there will be too much happening without his input.”

Dubbed by his ex-boss as too “old school” to continue coaching Penrith, Griffin is adamant he did the job Gould head-hunted him to do – and more.

“Whether I’m old school or not, there’s a hell of a lot a head coach has got to do these days to build a club to be able to produce a result every weekend,” Griffin said.

“To be able to manage staff, to care for young players and to be able to build a roster from within, it takes patience and it takes a lot of time.

“When you grow something from the ground up, it takes a lot of care and takes a lot of attention to detail in all areas – strength and conditioning, sports science, skill acquisition.

“They’re young players that are playing first grade for the first time so there’s a lot of welfare that goes on.

“So I’m proud of what I did there.

“If that’s old school, I’ll take old school any day to play a role in a club that’s had so much success in the last three years.”

Dragons’ Vaughan targets early NRL return

Dragons prop Paul Vaughan hopes to cut his four-week recovery time from an ankle injury in half.St George Illawarra star Paul Vaughan has set himself the task of whittling his recovery time to just two weeks in a bid to be back before the NRL finals.

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Vaughan is faced with the prospect of entering September devoid of match fitness after suffering an ankle injury in last week’s loss to the Warriors which has ruled him out for a month.

However, while he insists he can’t rush his return, Vaughan is motivated to come back early.

“The team said four weeks, which is more realistic, but I’d like to try and do all the prehab and rehab and try and get back as quick as I can,” he said.

“I want to help the team out as best I can.

“We’ve got an important run to the finals so I want to be out there with the boys.”

The Dragons prop admitted fearing the worst when he first hurt his ankle.

“Initially I thought it was pretty bad. I heard a big pop and I was nervous about that because I’d gone through a little bit of stuff with my left leg, breaking that a few years ago,” he said.

“I looked down and saw my ankle was straight, which was a positive.”

Having spent most of the year at the top of the table, the Dragons are in grave danger of slipping out of the top four after losing four of their past five matches.

Vaughan said the onus was on the forwards to regain their early-season form.

“We need to get back to that power game and blasting the ruck and letting our halves – the best in the comp – play off the back of that,” he said.

“If we can get those boys to play good footy, which comes down to us as a pack, we’ll be sweet.”

He said it was imperative the Dragons retain their spot in the top four as they enter a finals series tipped to be one of the most closely fought in recent memory.

For the time since 2014, the current top eight is separated by just six points.

“(Top four is) massive, especially in this game where anyone can beat anyone on their day, which makes things nerve-racking,” Vaughan said.

“If you get that second chance, you can regather and go again.

“That’s what we’ve made the goal this year, before the season started and we’ve been on top of the comp pretty much the whole season. I’m more than confident the boys can finish there.”

Shaw ready to resume AFL battle with Betts

GWS’s Heath Shaw is looking forward to resuming his long-running battle with the Crows’ Eddie Betts.Saturday night’s venue will be a source of confidence for GWS veteran Heath Shaw, but the same can’t be said about the prospect of renewing his AFL rivalry with Adelaide star Eddie Betts.

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The Giants will seek to shore up their top-four spot when they host the Crows in Canberra.

GWS boast an eight-match winning streak at Manuka Oval, where their most recent loss came in 2015.

The showdown between Shaw and Betts will go a long way to deciding the winner, as will the broader contest between the Giants’ in-form back six and the Crows’ star-studded forward line.

Shaw knows Betts’ party tricks as well as anybody, having attempted to curb the livewire’s influence with varying degrees of success over the past 12 years.

“He’s one of the best small forwards I’ve ever played on, if not the best,” Shaw told reporters.

“Over the years we’ve probably grown a friendship from the battles … there’s always that mutual respect between all the older blokes, still battling away over the age of 30.

“But we’re fierce competitors and both want to get on top.”

Shaw and Betts both debuted in 2005. They first played against each other in round 20 of that season, when Betts kicked three goals to help Carlton topple Collingwood at the MCG.

A lot has changed since then, including both players changing clubs, but Betts still possesses the ability to turn a game on its head with a single act of brilliance.

“You’ve got to be concentrating the whole time or he’ll get a hold of you. I always look forward to playing on Eddie, even though he has touched me up a couple of times,” Shaw said.

Shaw noted enforced omissions Brett Deledio, Toby Greene, Dawson Simpson and Sam Taylor will be sorely missed, but suggested the Giants will lift in their final home game of the season at Manuka Oval.

“We love playing down in Canberra. It’s always been a bit of a fortress for us, especially in the last three years,” he said.

The Giants snapped a four-match losing streak and turned their season around during their previous meeting with Adelaide.

The expansion club have won seven of their past eight games since that hard-fought victory at Adelaide Oval.

PM visits Alice to back Lingiari candidate

Malcolm Turnbull’s Alice Springs visit was spent backing CLP candidate for Lingiari, Jacinta Price.Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has visited the Northern Territory for the second time in less than three weeks after being criticised for not going after Cyclone Marcus and the rape of a two-year-old girl in Tennant Creek that shocked the nation.

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While the recent trip to Tennant Creek was to support and announce a regional deal for the troubled town, Wednesday’s visit to Alice Springs was about backing Country Liberal Party candidate for Lingiari, Aboriginal woman Jacinta Price.

She is regarded as a chance to steal the long-term Labor seat held by MP Warren Snowdon.

“Lingiari needs a strong voice in government, you understand every part of the community, the indigenous community, the pastoral industry, the mining industry, the industries in the city, in the town here,” Mr Turnbull told Ms Price at a press conference on Wednesday.

Mr Turnbull and Ms Price spent the day meeting the Tangentyere Women’s Family Safety Group, Alice Springs Town Council, the Central Land council and other community groups.

There were no concrete plans such as a city or regional deal announced, although the prime minister said he was open to it

Australia’s population went past 25 million this week and congestion is a major problem in Sydney and Melbourne that could be dealt with by expanding other cities.

City deals are underway for Launceston, Western Sydney and Townsville which involve the three levels of government coming together with community leaders to boost jobs, investment and improve community services.

Alice Springs Town Council has said previously it was prepared to put in $800,000 towards a “city deal” that would result in the relocation of government agencies such as the CSIRO to the town.

Mr Turnbull also rejected suggestions his government should be contributing more to the cost of fixing the NT’s infamous youth justice and protection systems.

Labor MP made right call to quit: Shorten

Labor leader Bill Shorten believes outgoing MP Emma Husar was right to quit politics while facing a series of bullying allegations in her federal seat.

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The western Sydney MP won’t recontest her seat of Lindsay at the next election, after 22 former staff accused her of bullying and harassment.

NSW Labor is expected to release the conclusions of its investigations into Ms Husar on Friday.

“There’s plenty, clearly plenty, of unhappy people here, but she’s made a very principled decision to say that politics isn’t for her,” Mr Shorten told reporters on Thursday.

“She’s put her party and the people first. I actually now think that it’s time for some of the personal attacks to stop. It’s what turns people off politics.”

Mr Shorten refused to say if he was happy with the NSW Labor investigation, which was widely leaked to the media.

“Emma Husar has been under extreme pressure, and I don’t know all the facts at the end of the day,” he said.

After announcing she would quit, Ms Husar accused some in the party of resenting her election because she had not come through the party machine.

“I had not done my Labor Party apprenticeship,” she told the Nine Network.

“A few nasty, faceless people can ruin someone’s career, almost completely smash it to pieces.”

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull asked Special Minister of State Mathias Cormann about the bullying allegations, and he was told there were processes in place to help the former electorate office staff who complained.

That could include complaints to the Finance Department, and the Independent Parliamentary Expenses Authority.

“Those processes are managed by Finance or IPEA independently and confidentially in the appropriate way,” a spokeswoman for Senator Cormann told AAP.

Mr Turnbull questioned how much Mr Shorten knew about the investigation.

“Where was the champion of the workers when people were being allegedly mistreated in this way?” he told 6PR radio in Perth.

But the Labor leader insisted he only found out when the story was leaked to the media.

“It’s rubbish. I had no knowledge of these complaints,” Mr Shorten said.

Ms Husar’s western Sydney seat of Lindsay, held with a margin of just 1.1 per cent, will be hotly contested between Labor and the Liberals at the election due by May 2019.