Home Australia ‘Like talking to your dad’: Ciraldo denies rift with Bulldogs boss Gould

‘Like talking to your dad’: Ciraldo denies rift with Bulldogs boss Gould

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'Like talking to your dad': Ciraldo denies rift with Bulldogs boss Gould

Cameron Ciraldo has laughed off claims of a rift between him and Phil Gould, comparing his relationship with the Canterbury football boss to that of a father and son.

The Bulldogs coach said it was natural the pair could clash over issues such as team selection, but that “healthy disagreements” were part of any trusting relationship.

Reports this week that NRL veteran Gould had been controlling selection decisions followed similar allegations made during Trent Barrett’s time at the helm of Canterbury from 2021 to 2022.

Like Barrett, Ciraldo was a young coach poached from the Penrith staff to help lead a turnaround at the success-starved Bulldogs.

Ciraldo said he hoped Gould would have an opinion on football matters and that those conversations could develop into a healthy debate.

“Gus and I have intense conversations almost every day,” Ciraldo said.

“We agree on some things, we don’t agree on a lot of things, but that’s the relationship we have and it’s been built over 10 or 12 years.

“The nice thing about this is that we can have those disagreements and then talk two hours later and move on.

“We have a good relationship. I wouldn’t have come here if we hadn’t.

“If we are going to agree on everything, what’s the point of us being here? These are healthy disagreements, like in any relationship of trust.”

Claims that Gould had been picking the team followed some changes to the Dogs’ 17 for Friday’s clash against the Sydney Roosters.

Samuel Hughes will start in the front row for the first time in his young career, replacing benched Liam Knight, while Kitione Kautoga will make his club debut since the swap.

Josh Curran and Blake Wilson also join the starting squad as injury replacements for Jacob Preston and Josh Addo-Carr.

Ciraldo said that he always had the final say in the selection.

“If (Gould) was doing it, I’d make him have tough conversations with the guys we’re eliminating,” Ciraldo joked.

“Talking to Gus is like talking to your dad. Sometimes he’s right and you walk away and say, ‘That makes sense there.’

“Sometimes I don’t agree and he trusts me and the path we are going.”

Drew Hutchison will face his former club for the first time since joining Canterbury in search of a full-time place in the halves this season.

The Bulldogs’ new running back developed a reputation as a utility man during five years at Moore Park.

Both Ciraldo and Roosters coach Trent Robinson insisted Hutchison was an absolute playmaker, despite Canterbury’s mixed start to the year in attack.

“He’s a genuine half,” Robinson said.

“You can see he’s running his system, so it’s good to have intimate knowledge of it.”

Former Gold Coast playmaker Toby Sexton is waiting in the wings but Ciraldo is comfortable with Hutchison being his best option at No 7 for the moment.

“Drew is our running back right now and we have his back,” Ciraldo said.

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