Wayne Bennett could be in line for a shock move to the foot of the mountains to replace Anthony Griffin. (AAP Image/Dave Hunt)
Wayne Bennett could be in line for a shock move to the foot of the mountains to replace Anthony Griffin. (AAP Image/Dave Hunt)

Coaching contenders: With Griffin gone, here are the Panthers’ picks

WITH Anthony Griffin being given the heave-ho at the foot of the mountains, a number of coaches are sure to be eyeing off the post.

But who's most likely to get the nod?

Of the contenders, it is believed Trent Barrett, Michael Maguire, Cameron Ciraldo and Wayne Bennett are currently best positioned to get the call from Panthers supremo Phil Gould.

Wayne Bennett

The master coach has done it all with over 800 games coached in the NRL for over 500 wins and has made it clear he has no thoughts of slowing down anytime soon.

Bennett has owon seven premierships and would be the ideal candidate to get through to a young Panthers playing group, who aren't playing for the full 80 minutes.

While he is contracted to the Broncos until the end of next season, the Broncos have made it clear they won't re-sign him and given his service to the club they may release him early to pursue a longer-term deal with the Panthers.

Michael Maguire

The former Rabbitohs' premiership winning coach came through the Melbourne Storm system under Craig Bellamy and has achieved great success as a first-grade coach in the NRL and in the Super League.

Former Souths coach Michael Maguire could be in the running. Picture: Mark Evans
Former Souths coach Michael Maguire could be in the running. Picture: Mark Evans

Maguire had a ruthless style that made the Rabbitohs one of the fittest and hardest working clubs in the NRL, although his inability to adapt to the evolving nature of the competition eventually cost him his post at Redfern.

While he is currently coaching the New Zealand national team, Maguire has made no secret of his desire to coach at NRL level again one day and the Panthers could be the perfect opportunity if he can get a release.

Cameron Ciraldo

Where there is smoke there's fire. And the rumour mill was in overdrive earlier in the year that the Panthers' playing group wanted assistant coach Ciraldo in the top job.

He'll get the first crack to prove he's ready for first grade, taking over as caretaker coach for the remainder of the season.

He also has coached a number of Penrith's young guns, having led the Penrith under 20s to premierships in 2015 and 2016.

With the Panthers in fifth spot, he'll lead Nathan Cleary and co into the finals, and a strong premiership tilt from the mountain men could see him given the nod for 2019.

Could Barrett be tempted back to the foot of the mountain?
Could Barrett be tempted back to the foot of the mountain?

Trent Barrett

There is also plenty of speculation that Trent Barrett will return to Penrith where he began his apprenticeship under Ivan Cleary in 2012.

Gould took to twitter three days ago to slam suggestions Barrett was being considered to take over from Griffin, but after what has been a tumultuous three years at Manly it would be a dream move for the young coach.

He would likely take his assistant John Cartwright with him, who Gould has a long-standing relationship with since Gould coached him in the early 1990s.