There was once a time, not too long ago, when the Panthers were criticised for not having any representative players on their roster. But those times are long left in the past with 17 Penrith players chosen to represent various sides during this weekend’s NRL Representative Round.
On Friday night when Australia take on New Zealand at Suncorp Stadium, Penrith’s Lewis Brown will be the only Panther representing the Kiwis against the Kangaroos after Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, who was selected to make his long-awaited Test debut, was forced to withdraw from the game due to suspension.
The one game ban was another huge blow for the 19-year-old, who was also forced to withdraw from the Four Nations last November with a fractured foot.
In the weekend’s other big match, Penrith will have five players represent City Origin who will take on Country Origin in Wagga Wagga on Sunday.
This year’s City Country match is seen as a true Origin selection game with a number of NSW positions still up for grabs.
Matt Moylan, Waqa Blake, Tyrone Peachey and Reagan Campbell-Gillard will all represent City while Bryce Cartwright will act as 18th man.
Two Pacific Test matches will take place at Cbus Super Stadium on the Gold Coast this Saturday with Fiji taking on Papua New Guinea and Tonga battling Samoa.
Penrith hooker Apisai Koroisau is the lone Panther in the Fiji squad while Panthers lower graders Wellington Albert and Stanton Albert will represent PNG.
In the night’s other Test, Penrith’s Sika Manu will captain the Tongan team with fellow Panthers backrower Ben Murdoch-Masila joining the bench.
Meanwhile, rookie Rob Jennings will play for the Junior Kangaroos; James Fisher-Harris and Sione Katoa the Junior Kiwis; and Sam Anderson and Leilani Latu will play for the VB NSW Cup Representative Team against Queensland Residents.
– Nathan Taylor