In Gus we trust: NRL targets Gould
The NRL is set to make one of the most significant administration appointments in the game's history by head-hunting Phil Gould to take on a "Mr Fix-it" role in the wake of another weekend of referee controversy and bunker howlers.
Gould is in high-level discussions with ARL Commission chairman Peter V'landys to take on a consultancy position.
In April, News Corp ran a poll discussing who should be the next NRL Head of Football and Gould was the overwhelming readers' choice.
It can also be revealed that interim chief executive Andrew Abdo is now considered a near certainty to take over full-time from Todd Greenberg but Gould's anticipated role could revolutionise the structure and decision-making process that has long infuriated fans.
Abdo has done an impressive job in difficult circumstances since taking charge during the COVID-19 crisis and has impressed V'landys.
One of the game's most experienced experts, Gould has played, coached and run clubs, as well as worked in the media, and his expertise would only be rivalled by Wayne Bennett.
It is expected that if he agrees to take on the job, he would work closely with current NRL head of football Graham Annesley, who is likely to be offered a new contract as well.
Annesley's contract is up at the end of the season but he is well respected within the game and has an outstanding knowledge of how rugby league operates on a day-to-day level.
But there is no question that the NRL is crying out for a person of Gould's standing to come in and troubleshoot everything from grassroots to the use of The Bunker and the overall adjudication of the rules.
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He also has an outstanding knowledge of the salary cap and what needs to be done to better help relations between the clubs and the governing body.
The revelation comes after another weekend when the match officials came under heavy fire.
Annesley was forced to stand down bunker officials Steve Clark and Ben Galea after a diabolic mix up that robbed St George Illawarra of a try in the four-point loss to Cronulla.
It's almost become a weekly disaster for the NRL but Gould is seen as a person who can simplify the process and give it a common sense touch. Gould has said in the past that fixing the referees is not as a big a job as it's been made out to be.
"Put me in charge of referees for 12 months, I'll do it for nothing and fix the whole mess," Gould declared on 100% FOOTY in 2018.
Now he's going to get his chance but he won't be doing it for nothing.
It's understood the discussions are so advanced that a consultancy salary could be in the early negotiation stage.
V'landys has developed a very close professional relationship with Gould since joining the commission and it's now at a point where they talk daily since he took the chairmanship.
It remains to be seen how this situation would impact on Gould's plans to become a player agent or what happens with his media commitments at Channel 9, given the likely conflict of interest.
Gould, who applied to become a player manager in February, has long been one of the most polarising figures in the game but one thing nobody would dispute is his encyclopaedic knowledge of rugby league.
Since taking over as chairman, V'landys has been hellbent on making the game the best it possibly can be and tackling issues that for too long have been swept under the carpet.
Originally published as In Gus we trust: NRL target Gould