Rugby league legend Mark Geyer has made a bold prediction following the Bulldogs’ appointment of rookie coach Cameron Ciraldo — while Fox League’s Andrew Voss is concerned the club’s “gamble” could backfire.
Ciraldo inked a five-year contract to join the Belmore club from 2023 onwards in a deal reportedly worth around $800,000-per-season.
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The 38-year-old was the hottest property on the coaching market following the axing of multiple coaches including Trent Barrett, but in the end NRL supremo Phil Gould got his man.
Ciraldo has been Ivan Cleary’s assistant for several years and former Panther Mark Geyer believes his appointment means Matt Burton’s tenure with the Bulldogs will almost certainly extend past 2023 after knocking back his player option for 2024.
“He’ll be the youngest coach in the NRL, 38-years of age and signs a five-year deal as I said it’s a major coup, but what it does is makes Matt Burton, now his signature will be a lot longer, he’ll sign on for longer,” Geyer said on Triple M.
“That means that Kikau won’t get cold feet, it means Reed Mahoney won’t get cold feet, the Fox (Josh Addo Carr).
“It’s a massive signing, a lot of people will be saying look he hasn’t done much but, he’s been an assistant coach but what he’s done is he’s very articulate in the way he prepares.”
Geyer also believes the Bulldogs are set for a “special” rebuild, going as far to say they could be premiership contenders within five years.
“It’s all about the team with Cameron Ciraldo it’s never about him so I think this is a major, major boost for the Bulldogs in the next five years,” he said.
“Cameron Ciraldo will, I’m not going to say it but they’re going to do something special in five years but they’re going to be close I would say.
“I reckon they’re going to be close to pulling off the biggest prize of all within five years.”
The Daily Telegraph’s Buzz Rothfield echoed Geyer’s remarks — but explained assistants who have been mentored by elite coaches don’t always become successful bosses themselves.
“At 38 he’ll be the youngest coach in the NRL but a terrific talent, he’s been a great right hand man for Ivan Cleary at the Panthers with all their success in recent years,” Rothfield said on the Big Sports Breakfast.
“He’s their minister for defense there, he’s the one who designed all the strategies to keep their line intact which has been so outstanding in recent times.
“Look the only thing I will say is just because you’re out of a Penrith system or Melbourne system it doesn’t automatically make you a great coach.
“I wrote this morning about Trent Barrett only having a 40 per cent win record despite the rap on ‘Baz’ (Barrett) when he came out of Penrith and Garth Brennan too.
“You look at guys like Adam O’Brien who came out of Melbourne and had a year under Trent Robinson.
“It doesn’t mean you’re going to be an immediate success but I’ve got this feeling that Cameron Ciraldo will prove that theory wrong, he’s got what it takes.
“I think it’s enormous for Canterbury and that he knows the pathways so well at Penrith, he’s been there over a decade on their coaching staff.
“He knows how to bring young players through, I think it’s a huge move for the Bulldogs.
“Put them (Kikau and Mahoney) in with Matty Burton and the rest of the team I think they’re going to be a real top eight chance next year.”
While many are backing Ciraldo to be a success, rugby league commentator Andrew Voss stated he wouldn’t be “signing a rookie coach for five years”.
Five-year coaching contracts have in the past gone pear-shaped — Anthony Seibold’s short-lived Broncos deal being the most recent.
Voss explained there are only a handful of coaches across the league that could warrant the long-term contract signed by Ciraldo.
“Any five-year deal, there’s an element of a gamble in it, even with a player.”
“But five years for an untried coach?” Penrith Panthers legend Greg Alexander asked.
Voss continued: “What if they haven’t played finals in a couple of years? I think five years is too much.
“Five years for a rookie coach? Trying to think of a coach you’d sign for five years, I think you’ve got to have the runs on the board.
“(Craig) Bellamy, (Trent) Robinson, (Ivan) Cleary, I don’t think there’s too many more.
“I’m not signing a rookie coach for five years.
“But, I wish Cameron Ciraldo all the very best.”
Originally published as Why Phil Gould’s $4 million gamble on Cameron Ciraldo could backfire