State pride on the line

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He’s just won a premiership with his NSW Cup side, now Penrith Panthers reserve grade coach Garth Brennan has the tough task of preparing his troops for yet another Grand Final appearance this Sunday.

Fresh from walloping the Newcastle Knights 48-12 in last weekend’s NSW Cup decider at Allianz Stadium, Brennan and his team have put Mad Monday celebrations on hold for another week as they prepare to face Queensland Cup winners, Northern Pride, in this Sunday’s inaugural State Championship Grand Final at ANZ Stadium.

The Super Bowl-style concept is the first of its kind for the NRL, which will see the premiers from the NSW Cup and Queensland Cup do battle for ultimate state glory.

Brennan told the Weekender he was looking forward to the showdown between his Panthers side and the Northern Pride.

“I think it’s a great concept and I think the NRL has shown how important it is due to the fact they scheduled the game before the NRL Grand Final,” he said.

The Panthers were as dominant as ever in the last Sunday’s NSW Cup Grand Final over Newcastle racing in eight tries to two in an impressive display of attack and defence.

“I was really happy with how the boys played, they worked really hard this year and they deserved that result,” Brennan said.

“I was really concerned about Newcastle coming into the game, I thought they were a quality side and played really well throughout the year.

“I just knew if we defended like I knew we could, I knew we’d score points. We have plenty of strike in our side.”

Northern Pride’s entry into this Sunday’s State Championship was similar to Penrith’s path throughout the season. The Pride only lost four games all year, just like the Panthers, and won their Grand Final with ease over the Eastern Suburbs Tigers 36-4.

“They’re a little bit of an unknown Northern Pride, I don’t know too much about them,” Brennan admitted.

“We’ll do a bit of homework on them this week, I’ve got videos of the Grand Final and semi-final game, but I’m a coach that worries about ourselves most of the time anyway. I won’t change too much.”

Brennan has called Ben Murdoch-Masila from the NRL squad to play in Issah Yeo’s place. Yeo was injured during last weekend’s Grand Final.

“Ben’s played a lot of NSW Cup this year and he’s probably the one who’s earned the right to be there,” he said.

The Penrith Panthers take on the Northern Pride for State Championship glory at 3.55pm this Sunday at ANZ Stadium.

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