Masked Panther: Mansour set for shock switch?

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There is talk around town that Josh Mansour’s days as a winger are numbered. An off-season move to the back row could be on the cards as the coaching staff look to maximise his contribution to the team. It’s no secret that Mansour has struggled on the wing this season and his low try scoring tally is a real concern for coach Ivan Cleary. Mansour is on good money and the club wants to get the best return for their investment. Anyone who thinks the idea is crazy need only look at 1996 when Matt Adamson made the successful move from fullback to second-rower. Stranger things have happened.

Josh Mansour. Photo: Megan Dunn

So who punched a teammate’s car? That was the big question after an article published by Christian Nicolussi in The Sydney Morning Herald on Tuesday revealed an altercation between two Penrith players earlier in the season. Nicolussi’s report suggested a player caused damage to a teammate’s car when he became angry and threw a punch. Club insiders have also revealed how a young player was forced to skip an interstate game, much to the anger of his teammates, because his partner refused to let him travel in the wake of the sex tape scandal. It certainly highlights a few of the challenges coach Ivan Cleary has faced off the field this year.

Centre Brent Naden won’t spend any time on the sidelines despite being hit with a Careless High Tackle charge out of the Cowboys game last Friday night. He was issued a monetary fine.

The Panthers have announced their SG Ball, Harold Matthews Cup and Laurie Daley Cup squads for the 2020 season. There’s a few interesting names in the mix, including young Braith Alexander in the SG Ball squad – son of the legendary Greg Alexander. You can see the full squads on the Panthers’ official website.

Panthers coach Ivan Cleary and former skipper Peter Wallace will be appearing at the launch of Pink Up Penrith at Panthers Leagues Club today (Friday, August 30). Pink Up Penrith is a tremendous initiative aimed at raising much-needed funds for the McGrath Foundation. Cleary and Wallace will be interviewed on stage and take questions from the crowd about Penrith’s 2019 season and the future of the club.

Ivan Cleary addressing the media. Photo: Megan Dunn

With the season approaching its conclusion there is no doubt plenty of recruitment rumours will start to emerge at the Panthers. With James Maloney moving on, Reagan Campbell-Gillard with one foot out the door and Dallin Watene-Zelezniak and Waqa Blake already gone, the Panthers have plenty of money to spend in the upcoming off-season. The problem is there’s not a lot of talent on the market, meaning club officials will have to be shrewd to lure some big names. I understand that the recruit committee met on Wednesday.

Despite Penrith’s poor form this season, I’m told corporate sales for the 2020 season are looking strong. There’s a wait list for corporate boxes and the Chairman’s Lounge is expected to be close to a sell-out for most games next year.

Spotted: Retired Panther Tim Grant and hooker Sione Katoa taking part in a lawn bowls day put on the by Penrith at Glenbrook Panthers last Friday.

The Panthers have confirmed the return of Old Boys Day for next week’s final home game against Newcastle at Panthers Stadium. A host of former Panthers will be there to celebrate the club’s history in front of what’s expected to be a pretty good crowd on a Sunday afternoon. It’ll also be James Maloney’s last game at Penrith – there’s sure to be plenty of interest around what could be his farewell NRL match.

Scoop confirmed: I told you a few weeks ago that Sione Katoa was unlikely to be at the Panthers next year. I’m told that he’s now been officially informed that his services won’t be required at the foot of the Mountains in 2020.

Sione Katoa. Photo: Melinda Jane

There was drama at Panthers training on Tuesday when hooker Mitch Kenny went down with what appeared to be a shoulder injury. Physiotherapist Krystal Sharpe rushed to assist Kenny. He is still set to play against the Roosters.

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