Masked Panther: DWZ out of Pantherland

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Dallin Watene-Zelezniak. Photo: Megan Dunn

It would appear that Dallin Watene-Zelezniak has played his last game with the Penrith Panthers. Word started coming through late yesterday that the Kiwi Test winger had formally asked Penrith for a release. Later the club confirmed he was granted permission to speak with other clubs, but no release had been granted yet. DWZ has been linked with Parramatta, Souths and the Cowboys. The shock development comes as the 23-year-old was left out of any Penrith team this weekend. While the release now appears a formality, the biggest question here is why he wants to leave?

Penrith fans can now get their hands on the club’s limited edition Indigenous jersey. This year’s jersey is an artistic tribute to the Darug Nation and the club’s Indigenous players past and present. The design of the jersey is based on an artwork by Panthers Indigenous Welfare Officer Glen Liddiard. The art incorporates the Panthers colours and depicts the geography and people of the Darug Nation – the home of the Panthers community today. The jersey also features totems of the Wiradjuri, Guriwal and Biripi people, representing the club’s proud legacy of Indigenous players. The jersey can be purchased now from the Panthers Shop.

Tyrell Fuimaono models
the new Indigenous Jersey

Nathan Cleary has plenty on his plate at the moment as he deals with the pressure of being the highest paid player in a team that’s simply not performing. That’s why it’s great he’s managed to set up his home life to be an escape from football. The 21-year-old is now living with a couple of tradies as housemates, who are keeping him grounded and allowing him to step away from the NRL bubble for at least a few hours each day.

With poor form comes more rumours, and the Panthers are certainly dealing with their fair share at the moment. Daily Telegraph journalist Paul Kent this week suggested there was a split in the Penrith camp with plenty of unhappiness. “The Panthers are quite likely to say that’s all rubbish,” Kent said. “But the thing is when you’re two wins from 10 games these kind of things happen.” It could also be a case of where there’s smoke, there’s fire. The rumours are coming in thick and fast that there’s a morale issue in the camp and a potential split down the playing group stemming from the sex tape scandal earlier this year.

Some of the Weekender team, including myself, received a special all-access tour of Bankwest Stadium this week ahead of Thursday’s clash between Parramatta and Penrith. What a venue this is – the corporate areas are second to none, the food options and thought process is amazing and the seating is out of this world. It really makes you understand why the investment in stadium infrastructure in New South Wales was so critical. One thing that does hit you about the stadium is that the main home and away team dressing rooms are almost identical, which makes a trip to the stadium as an away team a little easier to deal with versus your traditional suburban ground. The only difference in the home team dressing room is the inclusion of recovery baths, which do not exist in the away rooms.

Bankwest Stadium

Spotted: Dumped first graders Josh Mansour and Reagan Campbell-Gillard enjoying a steak dinner at Osso at Panthers Leagues Club in the hour prior to Penrith’s NRL clash with the Warriors last Friday night. The duo eventually made it over to Panthers Stadium to watch their teammates in action.

Tyrone May may have massive clouds hanging over his career but he’s still in good spirits. On Monday, he was the chief prankster at Panthers training – playfully interrupting a photo session with youngster Liam Martin.

There’s no question that the Panthers membership and corporate teams are feeling very nervous about Penrith’s performances this season. Several key sponsors are off-contract at the end of the year, while membership has been a reasonably easy sell in recent years given the club has consistently made the Finals. The staff at Panthers HQ could be in for a tough off-season as they try to convince sponsors and members to stay on the bus.

Which journalist was so annoyed that other media outlets didn’t hold a story as per his wishes that he complained to the Panthers media team?

Reagan Campbell-Gillard received a first-class rev-up from former NSW forward Mark Carroll last week.

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