Ivan Cleary has hit back at Phil Gould’s claims he was burnt out and needed a rest after he was sacked as Penrith’s NRL coach.
Panthers supremo Gould made the claims on Wednesday as he unveiled former Brisbane mentor Anthony Griffin as the club’s new coach for the next three seasons.
Gould said Cleary’s testing four years at the foot of the mountains had burnt Cleary out.
But Cleary, who is holidaying in the Maldives following the shock announcement, refuted those suggestions in a brief interview with Sportal.
“I am still a bit shocked and disappointed,” he said.
“No, I’m not ready to throw it in.”
Cleary had been linked to a return to the Warriors, who he led to the 2011 grand final before joining the Panthers, in the back half of last season.
But the former goalkicking three-quarter who played 186 first grade games dismissed the talk as pure speculation and said it had nothing to do with his exit from the Panthers.
“That’s just..(media speculation), that’s got nothing to do with it,” he said.
“I don’t want to say much more than that. I’m going on holiday and will definitely enjoy that,” he said.
Gould stood behind the decision to axe Cleary and bring in Griffin.
“It was extremely difficult the Ivan Cleary decision and it’s my decision, I made that call, I’ll stand by it and I’ll be accountable for it,” Gould said.
“With all my experience, all my heart and all my gut I believe it was the right thing for Ivan and for us at this time.
“We’ve been mates for 20 years and it’s not an easy thing to do. I believe this club needed a new direction and I believe Ivan needed a spell.
“To be honest, I think we burned him out.”