Panther's coach Anthony Griffin during the Penrith Panthers training session at Pepper Stadium, Penrith. Picture: Gregg Porteous
Panther's coach Anthony Griffin during the Penrith Panthers training session at Pepper Stadium, Penrith. Picture: Gregg Porteous

Griffin returning to Brisbane for more vengeance

WAYNE Bennett's kryptonite is back to crush Brisbane's premiership campaign exactly four years after he was sacked by the Broncos.

Penrith coach Anthony Griffin can put a dagger into Brisbane's top four hopes when the Panthers take on the Broncos at Suncorp Stadium on Friday night.

Griffin was the sacrificial lamb who made way for Bennett's return to the Broncos in 2015 after a six-year sojourn at St George Illawarra and Newcastle.

Despite having more than a year remaining on his contract, Griffin was sacked by the Broncos on July 20, 2014, after a deal was struck for the seven-time premiership-winning Bennett to return.

While the coaching resumes of 805-game legend Bennett and Griffin (170 games) cannot be compared, it is the latter who has the upper hand in their head-to-head battles.

Bennett's teams have only won three of the 12 matches they have played against Griffin's.

After spending the 2015 season out of the NRL, Griffin surprisingly returned in 2016 after being handed the reins of Penrith by general manager Phil Gould.

Griffin coached Brisbane from 2011 to 2014. Picture by Gregg Porteous.
Griffin coached Brisbane from 2011 to 2014. Picture by Gregg Porteous.

Griffin, 51, now presides over one of the NRL's most exciting rosters and a team in contention to win this year's premiership, following a pre-season marred by rumours of unrest.

"Results speak for themselves," Penrith legend and deputy chairman Greg Alexander said.

"There was a lot of pressure and questions around Hook (Griffin). If there were problems like what have been reported, then teams don't play that well.

"We were happy with Gus' (Gould) thoughts on Hook and why he got him there. We were all happy with the appointment.

"I didn't know Hook. I knew who he was and that he coached at the Broncos but I never had a discussion with Anthony Griffin.

"That was left to the general manager and CEO. You rely on the information provided by the people you employ.

"We were happy with Gus' recommendation and it has been a good one.

"Hook has been terrific. He has done a good job."

While Bennett has a lean record against Griffin, the Broncos knocked the Panthers out of the 2017 premiership race in their last meeting.

Griffin has a 9-3 record over Bennett. AAP Image/Dave Hunt.
Griffin has a 9-3 record over Bennett. AAP Image/Dave Hunt.

The 13-6 win to the Broncos in the second week of the finals at Suncorp Stadium came against a Penrith team that had run out of steam.

While the fifth-placed Panthers have struggled with injuries this year, they boast a formidable team led by NSW Origin halves Nathan Cleary and James Maloney, along with rising forward Viliame Kikau.

Alexander said the Panthers were a stronger side in 2018 and he hoped Griffin's dominance over Bennett continued.

"All the young blokes have got another year under their belt," he said.

"It was a very young team last year. They are a better side this time around.

"Kikau has been outstanding. There are some new faces that make us a better team and Jimmy (Maloney) is there.

"Hopefully his record improves by one more win this week."



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