GUS Gould will be forgiven if his five-year plan for Penrith glory takes six years.
Some of Penrith’s big names believe Gould’s ambitious forecast for the Western Sydney club will finally come off this season, albeit one season later than he originally predicted.
Gould not only made his club vision clear to every player before they were signed, more recently he resorted to a hands-on approach at training and during video analysis.
After taking over as general manager of the Panthers in 2011, Gould said he needed five years to build the club back up.
On Gould’s watch, Penrith have dominated the junior ranks, assembled one of the best rosters in the NRL — most of the stars are signed to long-term deals — and established their brilliant $22 million Panthers Academy.
They enter this season as joint premiership favourites in what could be their first title since 2003.
“I think this year you’ll see the fruits of his (Gould’s) labour, and who knows what the season will bring for Penrith,’’ prop Leilani Latu said.
Bryce Cartwright labelled Gould the “God of Penrith’’.
And while the five-year plan was never discussed among the players, they were all aware of the vision.
Cartwright and injured international winger Josh Mansour were both happy for Gould’s five-year plan to come off in the sixth year.
“Fingers crossed it happens,’’ Cartwright said.
“We have the right squad to do it. We just need to stay fit and healthy and have some fun and keep learning. You can’t wipe the smile off people’s faces around here.
“Gus is the rock of this place, he’s always there, and even stays late to watch the 20s train and help them out.
“He seems to be always there and always has a solution if we ever have a problem when something isn’t working.’’
Mansour said of Gould and the plan: “It’s been tossed up, but we don’t bring it up.
“Had you asked me five years ago if the club would be like what it is today, I couldn’t have pictured it.
“Without putting too much pressure on ourselves, I believe, and why shouldn’t I believe in this team?”