The Sunshine Coast Sea Eagles have turned to one of rugby league's brightest minds, Phil "Gus" Gould, in an attempt to arrest their fading fortunes. New South Wales' most successful coach will visit the Coast next Thursday as a special guest at the Sunshine Coast Men of League annual Christmas luncheon, but has set aside time to meet with Sea Eagles officials. The meeting was brokered by Sea Eagles chief executive Chris Flannery, who played under Gould at the Roosters in the late 1990s.
The Sea Eagles have had a lamentable three years, collecting two wooden spoons and failing to be regularly competitive. The Intrust Super Cup club was left in the lurch when its feeder deal with the Manly Sea Eagles was pulled from under it. The club has since failed to attract experienced players and struggled against better financed rivals. After a turnover in backroom staff over the past few months - including the recruitment of Flannery and the exit of several board members - and the receipt of a sizeable grant from the QRL, the Sea Eagles are hopeful of lifting themselves from the bottom of the ladder.
Gould, the Penrith Panthers' general manager, will speak at the Men of League function, which is a sell-out, alongside Broncos legend Allan Langer at the Mooloolaba surf club. Before the engagement, he will meet with Sea Eagles chairman Ashley Robinson at the Alexandra Headland surf club, where Robinson is the manager. Flannery said: "We heard that Phil was coming up and we thought it'd be a great opportunity to sit down and have a chat and see what his thoughts are on how to progress the club.
"We'll get his thoughts on the best way to move forward and have a general chat about footy - what he can suggest to us about being a bit more professional. He's done a great job down there with the Penrith Panthers. They haven't had the best few years, but I think this year you definitely saw a bit of a turnaround. "I think I'll be mainly talking to him about club culture and discipline and where he thinks we can take that." The Sea Eagles' problems can be traced back to their feeder deal with Manly falling over in 2010.
The club is yet to secure a player-sharing arrangement for the 2014 season and Flannery will broach the subject of a Panthers-Sea Eagles partnership with Gould.
"I'll definitely ask him about (the Panthers') set-up and if they would consider a second affiliation with a team up here," Flannery said. "Penrith's junior base is absolutely huge, but it couldn't hurt them to have an affiliation with us."
Sunshine Coast Daily