Cameron Ciraldo has landed his first NRL head coaching gig as he reportedly inked a five-year deal to take over the Canterbury Bulldogs from 2023.
Ciraldo, considered one of the brightest coaching minds in the game, has spent several years as Ivan Cleary’s understudy at the Penrith Panthers.
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He has also turned down a number of approaches from other teams for a head coaching position previously, including one from the Wests Tigers in June.
Ciraldo had been heavily linked with the vacancy at Belmore after Trent Barrett left the role earlier this season.
The 38-year-old, who will also become the youngest head coach in the NRL next season, is no stranger to Bulldogs GM of football Phil Gould as the duo worked together at the Panthers.
According to The Daily Telegraphan emotional Ciraldo broke the news to the Panthers playing group at training on Sunday.
speaking on Fox League’s broadcast, Michael Ennis and Greg Alexander, two figures who have connections to the Bulldogs and Panthers respectively, spoke glowingly of Ciraldo’s credentials.
“It’s exciting times for them (Bulldogs),” Ennis said.
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“Cameron’s very much where Craig Fitzgibbon was 12 months ago where he’s done a wonderful apprenticeship in a really good system.
“He’s had some previous experience when Anthony Griffin was moved on, did a great job at the back end of the season with the Panthers.
“So many of those young superstars that are now dominating at the top level, not just in club football but at Origin level, have such a wonderful wrap on him.”
While Alexander was upset to see Ciraldo move on from the Panthers, he believes it’s a sign that the club will continue to catapult assistant coaches into first grade gigs in the future.
“I’m excited for Cameron. It’s disappointing, but assistant coaches, everyone knows they’re about to move on. There’s been three moving on in the last two years.
“Trent Barrett left Penrith and went to the Dogs, Andrew Webster’s going to the Warriors and Cameron Ciraldo is going to the Dogs.
“Penrith’s assistant coaches, in terms of getting first grade jobs, have been pretty good.”
The hire of Ciraldo is also likely to keep five-eighth star Matt Burton at the club in a major boost to the club’s playing squad.
Ciraldo will take over a resurgent Bulldogs outfit thanks to interim coach Mick Potter’s efforts.
His departure is no doubt a massive blow to the Panthers, as Cleary must now search for two new assistans for next season following the looming exits of Ciraldo and Andrew Webster, who will take over the New Zealand Warriors in 2023.