Phil Gould says he wouldn’t want his Penrith players involved with the NSW State of Origin team at the moment because the environment and culture aren’t good enough.
Blues coaching great Gould said too much had been made of the “stupid” drinking session involving Josh Dugan and Blake Ferguson as answers were sought following the latest Origin series defeat.
But he slammed the culture and leadership structure of the NSW squad.
“The culture of this team is not right. But it wasn’t just this year, it’s been happening for years and years. This is just a culmination of it,” Gould said in his Six Tackles with Gus podcast on Thursday.
He described coach Laurie Daley as “cooked” and said there were too many people making decisions involving the team, with his role reduced to a “bit player”.
“It all starts with leadership. It all starts with who’s going to take control over this NSW Origin character, personality. What does it look like? How is it perceived?,” Gould said.
“It’s been a dog’s breakfast for a long time. We don’t know what to expect from our NSW side other than disappointment.”
Teenage Penrith halfback Nathan Cleary has been touted as a possible playmaking option for the Blues next year as they attempt to break Queensland’s dominance.
Gould had no doubt Cleary would become a representative-class player but believed it was ludicrous to think a 19- or 20-year-old halfback was going to solve the Blues’ problems.
“Honestly, we’ve discussed this at club level. I don’t want any of our players involved in that culture, in that current environment,” he said.
Gould was especially critical of the leadership structure.
“I just don’t think Laurie is in control of the campaign. I think too many people are running it for him,” he said.
“Too many other people are picking the teams … setting the agenda … deciding where the camp is going to be, what the media is going to be, what stories they’re going to put out every day.
“How they perceive themselves and ownership of Laurie’s team has been handed out to so many people that he’s just a bit player in the whole process.”
He questioned whether Daley returning to coach the Blues next year would be a good thing.
“I think Laurie’s in a bad place at the moment around his football team. Looking at him in that last game and particularly looking at his body language – he wanted to be anywhere else.
“Laurie’s cooked. You’ve only got to look at the body language over the series to see that this takes a really heavy, emotional toll on him.
“We all wanted Laurie to succeed … but I don’t know that we’re doing him a favour by saying ‘We’ve got to get you a win, you’ve got to come back and do it again’.”