Penrith coach Anthony Griffin has dramatically dropped veteran playmaker Jamie Soward to reserve grade in a move likely to raise questions about where the club is headed this season.
The massive news has just been confirmed with Bryce Cartwright and Nathan Cleary named in the halves for this Sunday’s game against Manly.
The Panthers have lost their last two games and must beat the struggling Sea Eagles at Brookvale Oval on Sunday afternoon to stay in touch with the top eight.
Soward fronted the media earlier today at a scheduled press event but gave no indication that he’d been dropped.
However, he did take responsibility for the loss to the Storm last weekend and said he didn’t follow coach Griffin’s game plan properly.
31-year-old Soward has played more than 200 first grade games and still has another year to run on an initial four year contract he signed with the Panthers.
Ironically, the Panthers have their first choice ‘spine’ available to be selected this weekend but will only field half of it – with Soward and James Segeyaro both in reserve grade.
As the news broke of Soward’s demotion, he Tweeted about his favourite Marvel superhero.
Earlier this year, the Weekender‘s Masked Panther reported that Soward was unlikely to see out the fourth year of his contract in 2017.
Troy Dodds is the Weekender’s Managing Editor and Senior Writer. He has more than 15 years experience as a journalist, working with some of Australia’s leading media organisations.