Spectacular launch for Panthers

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Anyone still doubting that positive, monumental change was underway at the Penrith Panthers under the reign of Phil Gould had it completely dispelled on Saturday night by a spectacular official launch to the club's NRL season.


It was very different to season launches in recent seasons – the traditional three course dinner was scrapped, replaced with networking opportunities and an hour-long presentation that kick-started the season.


The official proceedings, presented to those in attendance in theatre style, were opened by a group of dancers from Westside Performing Arts, who produced a sensational performance that represented all of the junior clubs in the district.


Panthers General Manager, Phil Gould, who watched over the evening's proceedings like a hawk, said 2012 marked a crucial year for the club.


"This is an important period in the history of our club," Gould said.


"A lot of what has occurred over the last nine months… the benefits won't be seen for year to come."


Gould said the Panthers needed to become the biggest sporting franchise in the country, and said it was important the club took its responsibilities seriously.


"We hold a great responsibility and in everything we do we have to bear that responsibility," he said.


"We see rugby league as a platform for a lot of needs in western Sydney.


"I'm very confident that whatever barriers we will beat them, and whatever challenges we will meet them."


In a positive sign for the season ahead, Gould declared he had not seen a side better prepared for a season in all his history with rugby league.


Panthers coach Ivan Cleary said he has settled into the region well.


"I'm loving it," he told the audience at the launch.


"It's a great community, a nice place and I'm proud to be a Penrith man.


"I feel really at home… it feels like we've been here forever."

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