Anthony Griffin has made no assurances on the future of Penrith stars Jamie Soward and Peter Wallace after being officially unveiled as the new coach of the NRL club on Wednesday.
Former Brisbane mentor Griffin will take over from Ivan Cleary who was sacked with a year to go on his contract with the club on Monday.
Griffin fell out with Wallace in their time together at the Broncos and Soward’s future too is uncertain amid reports the 30-year-old is being shopped around.
Wallace is off contract at the end of next season, while Soward’s four-year deal concludes at the end of 2017.
Griffin was non-committal on the future of both playmakers.
When asked if Soward had a future at Penrith, Griffin replied: “I wouldn’t know, if he trains hard enough he will be (here).”
Wallace, 30, was scathing in his assessment of Griffin when he was let go by Brisbane at the end of 2013, claiming Griffin lied about his plans for him.
However Griffin said that was part and parcel of rugby league.
“I felt for Peter at the time but I made the decision that Brisbane needed Ben Hunt as the long-term halfback. I am at the Panthers now and those decisions were made for another day and another club. I will be making decisions for the club I am working for now.”
Panthers general manager Phil Gould, who made the decision to sack Cleary and appoint Griffin, indicated there could be changes in the club’s roster ahead of 2016.
Fullback Matt Moylan could move into a frontline playmaking role alongside recruit Te Maire Martin who is considered one of the NRL’s most promising youngsters.
“It’s fair to say we have already done a lot of work in preparation for next year and there’s been a lot of discussion around our roster. Rosters are always evolving and we’ll impart what we know about it to Anthony and he can make his own decisions from there,” Gould said.
Jamal Idris is another Panther whose future is under a cloud. Idris has produced bursts of his best since moving from Gold Coast but missed most of this year with an ACL injury. The former Canterbury centre is off contract at the end of next season.
“Again. I don’t know,” Griffin said.
“I’ve seen the playing list over the past couple of days but my first priority is to set a standard here – and that’s not to say there hasn’t been standards here but that’s just the way I work – but any player who wants to work hard enough will get an opportunity.”
Griffin was let go by Brisbane at the end of 2014 for Wayne Bennett’s return to the Broncos. He spent the last season with Queensland Cup side Redcliffe.
“”I am very honoured to be in this position and humbled to be in charge of such a great club, with a great heartland and a great junior base. I am just happy to be back in the NRL again,” Griffin said.
“It is a tough business, there are only 16 jobs, I got myself into a position to do a 100-odd jobs at the Broncos and in my own mind I certainly wasn’t finished then.”
Gould paid tribute to Cleary, who led Penrith to the 2014 preliminary final but only just missed the wooden spoon this year, as laying the foundation for a successful future at the foot of the mountains.
Gould said he only had eyes for Griffin as Cleary’s replacement and no other candidates were considered.
Former Penrith NSW Cup coach Garth Brennan has been appointed as Griffin’s assistant.