Panthers Greatest Grand Final Team - Coach

Who do you consider to be our best coach?

  • Phil Gould
  • John Lang
  • Ivan Cleary

0 voters

PHIL GOULD (1990 & 1991)

A Wentworthville Magpies junior, graded with Panthers in 1976. He played 24 games over 5 seasons, scoring 2 tries, kicking 49 goals & a field goal.

He moved to Newtown in 1981, playing 17 games over 2 seasons, including the 1981 Grand Final. He scored 2 tries & kicked 7 goals.

Moving to the Bulldogs in 1983, he played 40 games over 3 seasons, scoring 3 tries & kicking a field goal.

His final season was with Souths in 1986, where he played 23 games, scoring once.

He started his coaching career in 1988 with the Bulldogs. In 47 games over 2 seasons, they won 29, drew 2 & lost 16, for a 62% win rate. He claimed the 1988 Premiership with the Bulldogs victory over the Tigers.

Taking the reins at Panthers in 1990, he would coach the club for 115 games over 5 seasons. 64 wins, 4 draws & 47 losses for a 56% win rate. He led the Panthers to back to back Grand Finals against the Raiders, finishing runners up in 1990 & Premiers in 1991.

He moved to the Roosters in 1994, where he would coach 125 over 6 seasons. 77 wins, 2 draws & 46 losses for a 62% win rate.

He coached NSW in 2 separate stints, 1992-6 & 2002-4. Winning 14/24 games (one game also drawn), and claiming the SOO Shield in 1992-4, 1996 & 2003-4 (2002 tied series).


JOHN LANG (2003)

Graded with Easts Tigers in 1969, he spent most of his playing career in the Brisbane Rugby League, score linking with Roosters in Sydney for one season in 1980, where he played 22 games, including the 1980 Grand Final. He scored twice.

He represented Queensland on 19 occasions, scoring 6 tries. He also represented NSW once.

He played 3 games for Australia, scoring 3 tries.

He started his coaching career with Easts Tigers, coaching them from 1981-4 & 1990-3.

He was recruited by the Sharks in 1994, coaching them for 220 games over 8 season. 128 wins, 5 draws & 87 losses for a 58% win rate. He led the Sharks to the 1997 Super League Grand Final, losing to Brisbane.

Moving to Penrith in 2002, he coached 125 games over 5 seasons, for 65 wins & 60 losses, at 52% win rate. He led the Panthers to the 2003 Premiership win over the Roosters.

After a few seasons away from the game, he returned in 2010 to coach Souths for 2 seasons. In 48 games they won 22 & lost 26 for a 46% win rate.

He coached the Australian Super League side in 1997, winning 3/5 games.



A Manly junior, he made his first grade debut in 1992, playing 15 games over 2 seasons, scoring 8 tries & kicking 50 goals.

Moving to Norths in 1994, he played 37 games over 2 seasons, scoring 15 tries & kicking 5 goals.

Recruited by the Roosters in 1996, he played 81 games over 4 seasons, scoring 29 tries & kicking 303 goals.

Moving to the Warriors in 2000, he played 53 games over 3 seasons, including the 2002 Grand Final. He scored 12 tries & kicked 195 goals & a field goal (2 goals in 2002 GF).

He started his coaching career with the Warriors in 2006, leading them for 164 games over 6 seasons. 81 wins, 3 draws & 80 losses for a 49% win rate. He coached the Warriors to the 2011 Grand Final loss to Manly.

Recruited by Panthers in 2012, he coached 100 games over 4 seasons. 45 win & 55 losses for a 45% win rate.

Moving to the Tigers in 2017, he coached them for 43 games over 2 seasons. 18 wins & 25 losses for a 42% win rate.

Returning to the Panthers in 2019, he has coached 47 games over 2 seasons, for 31 wins, a draw & 15 losses, at a 66% win rate. He coached the Panthers to Grand Final loss to Melbourne in 2020.

He coached the Prime Ministers XIII in 2015 to a win.

It will be interesting to see how people assess what makes a good coach. Each has had a different set of circumstances to navigate to get us to the big stage.

One common thread through all of our Grand Final teams is that they have been stacked with locally developed talent, with a few experienced heads & key buys to round out the teams.

Gould took us to our first 2 Grand Finals & first Premiership, a fair effort in anyone’s estimation. He did have a considerable advantage, given that he inherited a team that had been built over a number of seasons, first by Tim Sheens, and then by Ron Willey, and was ready to win.

Lang inherited a team that had just claimed a wooden spoon, and took us to Premiership success within 2 years. He also took us to within 1 game of another Grand Final the following year.

Cleary inherited a mess, and spent his first stint at the club building up from our junior base (with plenty of help from Gould). He took us to within a game of the Grand Final in 2014, but was relieved of his duties just a year later. When he returned in 2019, the juniors he had started to develop had become seasoned first graders under Griffin. In 2020 we saw the culmination of what Cleary & Gould had started together back in 2012.

I suggest Mutley has summarised it well.

When Gould took over, we had momentum built over the past few seasons & he was able to get the job done on the back of that.
Cleary too had the impetus of the build in the squad, and perhaps he actually got us there quicker than he should have, so perhaps he will prove the best over the next few seasons.
Lang achieved what was almost impossible. He took over with the club at rock bottom in in two seasons he won the trophy and took us to within 40mins of a second GF.
I have gone for Johnny ’ I hope I don’t wake up tomorrow & find it’s GF day’ Lang.


Lang was the standout choice for me !

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That was beyond difficult; went for Lang but it was screaming for a box trifecta.

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Lang …

fancy me voting for a Qlder eh ‘bird man’ !!!


Lang for me too.

He had a simple game plan, but got the team executing it to perfection.

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Gould. A lot of people are saying we’ll go one better tbis year. We’ve got to get there first.

Gould got us to the GF in 1990 & lost. Then he backed up to get us to the GF the next year & won.

I don’t think too many coaches have done that & it’s a huge achievement to come back after a GF loss one year & win the next. That gets Gould my vote over Lang.

Cleary? Well, he’s got another chance this year. Fingers crossed.

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