Canterbury boss Phil Gould denies a Bulldogs player walked out on the club straight after being punished for being late to training – and has backed coach Cameron Ciraldo to continue his strict regime at the struggling club.
The unnamed Canterbury player is on indefinite leave after reportedly leaving the club's Belmore headquarters after being forced to wrestle up to 12 teammates as punishment for not turning up to training on time. There have been further reports of players revolting against Ciraldo's relentless training program.
'NOT CONCERNED': NRL boss makes call after fans 'robbed' by finals move
'SICK OF IT': Latrell Mitchell at centre of shock retirement bombshell
"It's not as though he walked out after the event. He was still with the club for another week and then decided that he needed to take some leave," Gould told the Six Tackles with Gus podcast when asked about the disgruntled player.
"We've kept in contact. He's had the very best of welfare and counselling and support and we've been waiting on reports from medical people, which we now have in our possession.
"This is one of those occasions where, as a club, we need to be very measured in our response because there are some very sensitive issues at stake here. The absolute priority is the welfare of the player involved.
"(But) no one's walked out and no player has said anything around training or culture."
Gould also defended Ciraldo against accusations his training methods and demands are too exacting, forcing players into mutiny. "Cameron Ciraldo has at all times defended his coaching style and the type of training that we're doing at the Bulldogs, and we all support that wholeheartedly," Gus continued.
"It's a club that's prided itself on hard work and hard (work) ethic. We want to instil those values and instil that training and work ethic and it gets hard for some and it gets too hard for others.
"The ones that come out the other side are the ones you want to build your club around and it's as simple as that. They all work extremely hard (and) it's good to know now that the public understands how hard they work because at times when you watch us play, you wonder whether or not they did."
Phil Gould hits out over leaked report
Media outlets have not named the player at the centre of the walkout drama due to mental health concerns, but Gould is not impressed the story went public in the first place.
He said: "My suspicion is that details of that report have been leaked out in some way, shape or form, which is why the media has now suddenly seized upon the story.
"I doubt that this story goes any further if we hold our peace, which we will and we're doing that because of the sensitivity of the matter and the protection of the player. It's just too sensitive to be giving details of what did or didn't occur or as to what effect that's had on anyone that was involved.
"We're quite comfortable where the position is. We’re certainly very mindful of the mental health and welfare of the player involved and there's a lot of sensitivity around that."
Sign up to our newsletter and score the biggest sport stories of the week.