Masked Panther: Peachey still Titans bound

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There’s plenty of speculation around at the moment about Tyrone Peachey wanting to stay at the Panthers next season despite signing a lucrative deal to join the Gold Coast Titans. I’m told by key officials at Panthers that there’s been no formal approach by Peachey or his management to Penrith regarding the possibility of staying at the foot of the Mountains. Even if that did happen, Penrith would be unlikely to be able to accommodate him due to salary cap constraints. As I understand it, Peachey is still committed to the Titans deal but with a young family, he’s concerned about moving away from the support network he has in Sydney. Watch this space but as it stands Peachey is still heading to the glitter strip in 2019.

There’s also been rumours floating around about James Maloney’s future at Penrith. The 32-year-old, who is set to return from a knee injury tomorrow against Melbourne, has been linked to the Gold Coast with reports he’s unhappy at Penrith after just one season. However, I’ve been told there’s no truth to the story and Maloney will definitely be at the club next season. The Titans apparently made a casual approach to Maloney’s manager about his availability but were quickly told to look elsewhere.

James Maloney. Photo: Melinda Jane

Panthers General Manager Phil Gould certainly raised some eyebrows this week when he suggested injured fullback Dylan Edwards could make a shock return if Penrith reached the Preliminary Final. I’m told the club’s medical staff were a little bemused by the claim as while Edwards would most likely be physically fit for such a return, all his rehabilitation plans have been focused around a 2019 comeback. Edwards suffered a serious shoulder injury back in April and the Panthers haven’t been able to adequately cover the fullback position since.

All is quiet on the search for a new coach at the moment but I can tell you the club remains very confident that Ivan Cleary will switch from the Tigers to the foot of the Mountains in time for the 2019 season. Penrith are treading carefully given the Tigers’ initial response to the Cleary rumours but with the Tigers playing their final game of the season this weekend and now out of Finals contention, you can expect the topic to reignite through September and October.

Horrible news for one of the game’s best defensive centres with Dean Whare ruled out for the next month of football with a broken arm. Best case scenario for the 28-year-old would be a return for the Grand Final, if the Panthers manage to turn their fortunes around and make it that far. It was better news for hooker Wayde Egan, with his knee injury not as bad as first thought – ensuring he’ll play again this season.

Dean Whare. Photo: Melinda Jane

It wouldn’t have happened under Anthony Griffin but the Panthers now have a soundtrack to their training sessions. A huge speaker has been installed at the Panthers Academy, with music blaring during the team’s training run on Monday.

Panthers General Manager Phil Gould took the unusual step of travelling with the team to Auckland last week. Gould is offering as much support as he can to caretaker coach Cameron Ciraldo during what is a difficult time for the club. Gus looked somewhat forlorn as the camera panned to him during the second half of last Friday’s game at Mount Smart Stadium.

The schedule for week one of the Finals will be released by the NRL on Sunday night with the final game of the season – Brisbane’s clash with Manly at Suncorp Stadium – likely to have some bearing on the final finishing positions. Tickets to Finals games will go on sale on Monday morning to Members. Meanwhile, club captains of all eight teams participating in the Finals will gather at Allianz Stadium on Monday for the annual media session. It’ll be the third year in a row the Panthers have attended the media call and incredibly Penrith will send their third captain along in as many years. Matt Moylan did the duties in 2016, Peter Wallace in 2017 and James Maloney will be sent this year.

Congratulations to Panthers legend Trent Waterhouse who last weekend officially became a firefighter.

The Masked Panther picked up his Finals t-shirt this week. Just a reminder they’re on sale now at the Panthers Shop.

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