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Elliott to remain Penrith NRL coach

By David Beniuk 08/09/2008 07:13:17 PM Comments (0)

Penrith coach Matt Elliott will remain at the helm of the NRL club in 2009.

Elliott fronted the Panthers board on Monday amid speculation he would be sacked after two poor seasons at the foot of the Blue Mountains.

"Today we had a board meeting to review our performance of season 2008," club chairman Barry Walsh said in a statement.

"Matt Elliott attended the meeting and it was very productive.

"Whilst we acknowledge that there were disappointing aspects of the season we see a positive future.

"The board unanimously re-affirmed Matt Elliott will remain our coach for 2009."

Penrith board member Greg Alexander said the club had needed to put an immediate end to the persistent speculation about Elliott's position.

"Penrith probably reacted to that and we needed to sort things out and of course we couldn't allow the speculation to continue," Alexander told the Fairfax Radio Network.

"As a board we decided to sit down and meet with him, go through the season and get it out of the road as quickly as possible so everyone could move forward and know exactly what's going on before we start training which is only six weeks away."

Alexander denied the decision was based on any inability of the club to pay out the coach for the final year of his deal.

"You have to be responsible as a board in this financial climate and with our leagues club struggling," he said.

"We thought that was the best thing for the club, the money really didn't come into account but if things were a little bit more shakier than they were that would have to be a consideration."

Elliott linked with the Panthers on a three-year deal in 2007.

Premiers in 2003, the club picked up the wooden spoon in Elliott's first year and finished 12th this season.

The coach has endured persistent rumours of player discontent with Kiwi second-rower Frank Pritchard reportedly asking for a release three times this year.

Five senior players are leaving the club, including hooker Luke Priddis whose relationship with Elliott was also considered rocky.

Despite the apparent unrest, captain Petero Civoniceva on Sunday endorsed Elliott.

"I think Matthew Elliott walked into a bit of a hornets' nest in terms of the playing group," Alexander said.

"Whether he handled that as well as he could have, I don't know. I'm sure he'd like to do a couple of things different."

Elliott denied Monday's meeting was about saving his job.

"Someone's saying I was fighting or pleading for my job. That was not and will never be the case," he told reporters.

"The fact is at the moment I've got a contract."

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