Popular Panthers winger Josh Mansour admits Penrith’s semi final loss to Canberra last year still stings and he’s eager to get some sweet revenge this weekend.
The Raiders were responsible for ending Penrith’s 2016 premiership campaign with a 22-12 win during week two of last year’s playoffs.
However, less than 12 months later, the tables have turned and it’s now Penrith’s chance to end Canberra’s slim top eight hopes this Sunday afternoon at GIO Stadium.
After getting the chocolates in miracle fashion over the Raiders in Bathurst back in June, Mansour believes there’s a real rivalry brewing between the 1990 and 1991 Grand Final opponents.
“I think there is a rivalry growing with Canberra – it’s always a tough match-up with them especially with Jordan Rapana and Joey Leilua on my edge,” he said.
“I’ll be looking forward to the contest but it won’t be an easy job. The Raiders are fighting for a Finals spot like us and, down in Canberra, it’s going to be tough.”
The Panthers haven’t won in the nation’s capital since 2014 but their semi final loss last year is the defeat that hurts the most.
Mansour said he hopes his teammates remember what happened on that cold night last September and get some revenge.
“I think we should remind ourselves of that game,” he told the Weekender.
“Last year when we lost to Canberra we all left disappointed because it knocked us out.
“Bringing that feeling back and hopefully working and pushing ourselves harder to get the win will be good.”
Since returning from an ACL injury midway through the year, Mansour enjoyed one of his better performances of the season against North Queensland last weekend.
Not only did he score a great individual try under the posts, he also made amends for Penrith’s last minute loss to the Cowboys back in Round 16.
“I had this game penned down, I really wanted to make up for that game in Townsville – it left a bitter taste in my mouth,” Mansour admitted.
“It was definitely good to get over the line… you don’t get many wingers scoring under the posts but the gates just opened up and I went straight through.”
While Mansour admits last Saturday’s victory was important for Penrith’s Finals hopes, there’s still plenty of improvement to be made both personally and from a team perspective.
“I feel very good at this point in time, I knew it wasn’t going to be easy but each week I keep improving myself as a player,” he said.
“We all just have to keep on bettering ourselves each week. We still have loads of improvement in us.”
Nathan Taylor is the Weekender’s Deputy Editor and Senior Sports Writer. He also compiles the weekly Chatter on the Box TV column. Nathan is an award-winning journalist, who has worked at the Weekender for nearly a decade.