Written by Oliver Kellner-Dunk
Photo by Fairfax Media
The Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs have recently announced the acquisition of Rugby League mastermind Phil “Gus” Gould as their new General Manager, a role that the 63-year-old once held at Penrith from 2012 to 2019.
However, Gould already has a storied and successful history with the Bulldogs that he will look to replicate in his new role at the club.
In 1983, Gould joined Canterbury-Bankstown from the Newtown Jets as a player and would go on to don the blue and white of the Bulldogs on 38 occasions between 1983 and 1985.
During this time the “Dogs of War” as they were known would win the Winfield Cup on two separate occasions, although Gould would play in neither Grand Final.
When 1986 rolled around, Gould went to South Sydney for a season before retiring and being offered the role of reserve grade head coach at the Bulldogs in 1987.
At the end of the 1987 New South Wales Rugby League season, Gould earned himself a promotion to first-grade head coach at the club, following the departure of three-time premiership-winning coach Warren Ryan.
Gould had big shoes to fill, and at just 30-years-old he became the youngest first-grade coach to lead his team to a premiership, and one of a few coaches to do so in their first season in charge, as his Canterbury-Bankstown side toppled the Balmain Tigers who were favourites in the 1988 Winfield Cup Grand Final, 24-12.
This achievement also led to Gould receiving the 1988 Dally M Coach of the Year honour.
But the next season would be nowhere near as successful, with the defending premiers finishing 1989 in ninth place with a record of ten wins, ten losses and two draws.
Gus would leave the club at the end of the year to take up the role of head coach at Penrith, where he would lead that club to their first premiership in 1991.
It has now been 32 years since Gould was last involved with the Bulldogs and a lot has changed.
The club has gone from being consistent finalists throughout the ’80s, ‘90s and ‘00s to languishing towards the bottom of the ladder for at least the majority of most seasons since their last finals appearance in 2016, which funnily enough was against a Penrith Panthers side that boasted Phil Gould as their General Manager.
At this point, the Bulldogs sit dead last on the 2021 NRL ladder and are in desperate need of Gould’s experience in the game to help them out of this rut.