The Masked Panther – round three

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Masked_panther_2016_WEBTwo games, two serious injuries. It seems Penrith can’t shake the injury curse that has struck the club for the last few seasons. After losing James Segeyaro to a broken arm in Round 1, the Panthers this week confirmed that Dean Whare (pictured) will be out for the next month at least after suffering a calf injury against the Bulldogs last weekend. It is a new injury for Whare, not a repeat of the injury that kept him out of week one.

Penrith’s new Rugby League Academy is due for completion within the next few weeks and all of the team’s day-to-day operations will move over to the new facility. That includes training, with the team to only train at Pepper Stadium once in the lead-up to a match. The rest of the training, including work in the gym, will take place at the Academy. I also understand that any post-game recovery will take place there too.

Panthers boss Phil Gould has broken his social media holiday to briefly return to Twitter and deny that the club is chasing Wests Tigers playmaker Mitchell Moses. It’s not the first time that Moses has been linked to the Panthers, but Gould has emphatically denied reports that the youngster took a tour of the club’s facilities. As part of the denial, Gus declared, “we will develop our own halves”. That may be true, but let’s not forget that less than 12 months ago the Panthers signed Te Maire Martin from the Tigers – he’s likely to be a long-term solution for Penrith in the halves.

Panthers stand-in skipper Peter Wallace recognises that there’s a bit of emotion in this weekend’s clash for Anthony Griffin, who coached the Broncos before being told to make way for Wayne Bennett. “You always want to prove people wrong… I’m sure he’s got a point to prove, as do all of us,” Wallace said earlier this week. It would appear that Wallace and Griffin have well and truly buried the hatchet over their previous issues.

James Segeyaro is yet to talk to the Panthers about a deal beyond this season. The 2014 Hooker of the Year is off contract at season’s end and there’s a fair bit of speculation about his future doing the rounds. His recent broken arm has robbed him of the chance of showing some good early season form.

Panthers coach Anthony Griffin is winning fans with a new concept after the Captain’s Run (the final training session) each week. He’s turned into a BBQ whiz, putting on a lunch for the players, staff and even the media.

Technology changes plenty of things in rugby league, including training techniques. The Panthers have a drone as part of their training set-up, and the man in charge of flying the equipment is none other than Alex Melville.

The salary cap scandal starting to engulf Parramatta is a clear indication that the NRL needs to review its entire third party sponsorship process. While it’s good in theory to separate third party sponsors from the club’s sponsors, it’s really impossible to split the two. I’m not suggesting any wrongdoing by any other club, but I will say that I’d find it hard to believe that every other team in the NRL keeps their third party deals totally separate. It is very murky water and a tough one for the new NRL boss to work out.

Not surprisingly, the A-League is starting to struggle when it comes to TV ratings now that the NRL is back. Just 35,000 watched the Sunday afternoon clash between the Wanderers and Jets on Fox Sports. Incredibly, 225,000 watched the Sharks v Dragons on Fox even though it was also on Channel Nine. The A-League figure is appalling when you consider the Wanderers were playing for top spot at a crucial part of the season. The numbers weren’t all that much better across the weekend and it’s becoming clear that the A-League will struggle to do any sort of impressive free-to-air deal. When more people are watching the 1964 Western flick ‘A Fistful of Dollars’ than the sole A-League match on a relaxing Sunday afternoon, you know you have a problem.

Annual General Meetings for both the Leagues Club and Football Club will be held on Wednesday, March 23 at the EVAN Theatre. It’s expected to be generally uneventful but members can get more information here:

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