Panthers boss Phil Gould believes this week’s Friday Night Football clash between two of western Sydney’s powerhouse clubs, Penrith and Parramatta, will be the biggest game of the year thus far for both teams.
Speaking with Extra Time ahead of Friday’s top four blockbuster, Gould said both sides deserved their position on the ladder and that tonight’s game was a “massive” occasion for rugby league in western Sydney.
“It’s great to see both sides going well. Parramatta has had their troubles, the Panthers have been in a rebuilding phase but Friday night is three versus four and it’s a big night for both clubs,” he said.
“It’s only early in the season, there’s still a long way to go but both clubs are in good positions at the moment. In saying that, we’re only a couple of points from being out of the eight because the competition is very congested.
“The winner of this game will take a huge leap forward, so it’s a big game for both clubs.”
After enjoying the bye last weekend, the Panthers are currently sitting in third position on the ladder following back to back wins over Newcastle and Canberra in recent weeks.
Gould admitted the club was pleased with the position they were in 11 rounds into the season.
“I think the coach and players have done a good job. We’ve had some injury concerns, we haven’t had the same side on the field in consecutive weeks yet, but we have good depth this year and players who have come in have done the job,” he said.
“I think where we are positioned is pretty fair and it’s a big few weeks coming up during the Origin period that we can hold our head up high and be there for the run to the finals in July and August.”
With the Panthers performing spectacularly well on the field, Gould revealed there were some exciting announcements to be made off the field in terms of the club’s recruitment for next season.
“We have a couple of nice announcements coming up, some signings and re-signings. Our roster is nearly done for next year, we’ve already begun working on the 2016 roster,” he said.
“I think the most exciting thing is we’ve got some youngsters ready to debut in first grade between now and the end of the year. Over the next few years fans are going to see some youngsters come through the top grade that they’re going to love. That’s the exciting part for us.”
Meanwhile, the Panthers confirmed today that with a sellout on Friday night likely, junior passes won’t be accepted for entry into Sportingbet Stadium on Friday evening.