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Bulldogs lure Phil Gould back to the club as football boss

Phil Gould claims Canterbury can become one of Sydney's benchmark NRL clubs again after the Bulldogs pulled off a major coup by luring him back to the kennel.

Canterbury dropped a bombshell on Friday night by confirming Gould would join them as general manager of football as they seek to turn the struggling club around.

Already contracted to the Warriors, Gould was approached by the Bulldogs for a second time this year on Thursday night.

With COVID-19 limiting his ability to set up structures in New Zealand, Warriors owner Mark Robinson agreed to release Gould to the club where he got his first head coaching role and guided a premiership win in 1988.

And while Gould said he was still happy to help the Warriors at a pathways level, a mammoth task now awaits him at Belmore.

The Bulldogs have not played finals football since 2016, having been in a battle to avoid the wooden spoon for most of the past four seasons.

"I know the Bulldogs club very well. I have followed them with great interest all my life," an emotional Gould told Nine's post-match coverage on Friday night.

"It's an all-encompassing role. It's a very special club.

"It's always been a marquee club in Sydney and I want to return it to that level."

Gould held a similar role at Penrith, brought in during 2011 as a coaching director with a whole-of-club approach to turn the Panthers around.

He eventually left in 2019, but by then the Panthers had their envied junior system sorted out before reaching last year's grand final.

And while Penrith's junior base is far bigger than the Bulldogs', Gould indicated he would take a similar eye to the bush in a bid to help bolster the club's talent pool.

"There has already been a lot of hard work done at the Bulldogs that you probably don't see," Gould said.

"Their salary cap is looking good and there are opportunities over the next couple of years if they need to make changes to the roster.

"Whatever is in the local area we will support and develop it. And we'll set the pathways up.

"I would imagine too that there is opportunity in country areas for Bulldogs to have a role in nurturing from those areas too."

Gould won two premierships as a player at the Bulldogs before becoming the youngest coach to claim the major prize as a 30-year-old in 1988.

His return 32 years after he last coached there comes after he was first approached by chairman John Khoury before Magic Round this season.

However at the time he believed he could still make a significant indent for the Warriors before COVID again took hold.

Part of the Bulldogs' offer was to allow Gould to continue working with the Warriors pathways, while he also had the lure of reuniting with Canterbury coach Trent Barrett.

"We firmly believe that he can help to drive us forward to getting back to where we need to be as a premiership contender once again," Khoury said.