The Masked Panther – Round 8

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Phil Gould. Photo: Megan Dunn

Masked_panther_2016_WEBWhile he often brings questions surrounding his own future on himself, I can assure you that Phil Gould is not close to leaving his role at the Panthers. Gould has given the Panthers Board an assurance that he’s around for at least the medium-term, but his workload will obviously decrease now that Corey Payne has been appointed as Football CEO. It’s unlikely Gould will ever totally leave the Panthers – he’s expected to stay on as a consultant even when he does finish up in his day-to-day role, and don’t be surprised if he ultimately aims to fill a vacant Board position in the long-term.

Phil Gould and Bob Fulton have a strong relationship so it was no surprise to hear that the Manly supremo was recently given a guided tour of the new Panthers Rugby League Academy.

Expect the future of Elijah Taylor to be sorted out at some stage in the next few weeks. As I’ve been telling you since the start of the season, Taylor is on the outer at Panthers HQ and a release either to the Roosters or Tigers is expected in the not too distant future. Taylor has been stuck in reserve grade for the bulk of the season.

The Panthers will not wear their ANZAC jersey against the Sharks on Sunday. The incredible jersey worn last year for the game against the Sharks at Pepper Stadium was well and truly a one-off and won’t be repeated on the weekend.
Spotted: Peter Wallace, Jamie Soward, Matt Moylan and James Segeyaro checking out the new Skinnys restaurant in Jamisontown.

There’s talk that the Panthers are preparing for life without Jamie Soward and Peter Wallace, with the club reportedly offering Corey Norman a $1.8 million deal over three years. Rumour has it that Norman rejected the deal, and has also rejected the most recent offer from his current club, Parramatta. It’s unlikely that Norman will make a final decision on his future until the Eels’ salary cap dramas have reached a conclusion.

Phil Gould used his Sun Herald column last week to push the case for Penrith to be the location of the new ‘outer western Sydney’ stadium, which is still in the State Government’s long term plans. “Penrith is at the centre of this new western corridor. Plans are well underway for this city to develop over the next decade to provide the necessary quantity and quality of housing and urban living accommodation, lifestyle precincts, entertainment hubs and the very best of sporting facilities for the sport loving residents in and around these areas,” Gould wrote. “Central to all of this will be an urgently needed upgrade of Pepper Stadium. The NSW government has already flagged that funds will eventually be provided for a fourth stadium development in the greater western area.”

It seems a little over the top to suggest that coaches can’t comment on The Bunker and decisions made during a game. While I understand the NRL’s desire to protect match officials, results can often be determined by close video referee calls and surely coaches deserve the right to have an opinion on them. What doesn’t help the average viewer at the moment is Channel Nine’s decision to broadcast its own replays, not those being seen by The Bunker. Fox Sports have it right – they’re showing the same replays that The Bunker is seeing and therefore the audio coming from The Bunker makes sense.

James Segeyaro and Dean Whare are set to make their long-awaited returns from injury against Canberra in Bathurst next weekend.

There’s no excuse for Panthers fans not to travel to away games with the club launching a new affordable bus this week. For just $10 per game, Panthers Members can travel to the upcoming away games against Cronulla, Canberra, Manly and Wests Tigers. It’s $20 for non-Members.

I’m told that Anthony Griffin asked for the dressing room to be cleared so he could speak openly and frankly to his players following Monday night’s gutsy win over the Roosters at Allianz Stadium.

Monday night’s game against the Roosters had a huge audience on Fox Sports with 280,000 people tuning in.

The latest radio ratings were released on Tuesday and it’s an interesting battle between 2GB and the ABC. 2GB is still dominant on weekends with 9.3 per cent of the available audience (up 0.8 per cent from the last survey), but the ABC is not far behind with 8.5 per cent. Triple M is the station of choice for younger listeners and has an overall share of 5.8 per cent on weekends. It’s a close race with 2GB only just hanging on.

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