Masked Panther: Merv on the move

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This year’s Merv Cartwright Medal event is on the move. The club’s annual presentation night is moving inside Panthers to the EVAN Theatre, and has been switched to a Monday night (September 16). In the past few years the event has been held on Wednesday evenings at the Panthers Exhibition Marquee. You can’t read too much into the date as the event has been moved around considerably over the years.

There’s rumours swirling around that the Panthers could make a play for Melbourne Storm prop Christian Welch, especially if Reagan Campbell-Gillard is moved on at the end of the season. The Daily Telegraph reported last week that 25-year-old Welch was himself a target of the Eels prior to suffering a recent ACL injury.

Scoop confirmed: I told you last week that Trent Barrett was likely to re-join the Panthers as an assistant coach to Ivan Cleary next year. It’s since been widely reported that Barrett and Cleary have settled any past differences and that the former Manly coach will definitely be headed back to the foot of the Mountains next year.

Despite doing a good job as Penrith’s Canterbury Cup coach over the last few years, the drums are beating that Guy Missio will be replaced as reserve grade coach in 2020. Rumour is the position will go to a former Panthers player who the club has a high opinion of and believes will develop into a very good coach. No word on what will happen to Missio. Watch this space.

Youngster Matt Burton, who made his NRL debut to much fanfare against the Sharks a fortnight ago, has signed a two-year contract extension with the Panthers. The new deal will ensure there’s plenty of competition for halves spots next year with Nathan Cleary, Jarome Luai and Burton all of NRL standard. Expect Cleary and Luai to start the season in the halves next year with Burton the most obvious back-up. Of course, Penrith’s forgotten man, Tyrone May, could also be in the mix, pending the outcome of his court case.

Matt Burton makes his debut. Photo: Megan Dunn

An inspiring documentary about Panthers on the Prowl and Kokoda will have its red carpet premiere at the EVAN Theatre this Sunday, August 25 at 6pm. The event is free to attend and everyone is welcome. The documentary ‘Kokoda: Walking With Legends’ was made by Daniel Meyer and follows Major Charlie Lynn, Brad Waugh and Royce Simmons with seven local high schools students and their mentors as they take on Kokoda. I’m told it is a stunning and inspiring film. Every Panthers fan should see it – it’ll open your eyes to the tremendous work Panthers on the Prowl is doing too.

Bad news for Jed Cartwright with the rookie suffering a shoulder injury that will rule him out for the rest of the 2019 season. Cartwright made his NRL debut this year and is expected to play more top grade footy next season.

Jed Cartwright. Photo: Megan Dunn

Talking of the Cartwrights, it was great to see Panthers legend John Cartwright sit down with Andrew Voss on ‘The Fan’ on Fox League on Tuesday night to talk about his illustrious NRL career.

I mentioned earlier this year that there would likely only be 10 games at Panthers Stadium next year, with the club to host a Magic Round game at Suncorp Stadium, as well as the usual trip to Bathurst. I’m now told that the club may not be hosting a Magic Round game after all, meaning the usual 11 games at Panthers Stadium is back on the agenda. Certainly the club is selling ‘11 home games’ to corporate partners for next year.

Nathan Brown’s departure from the Newcastle Knights opens the door for Anthony Griffin to potentially return to an NRL coaching role. I’m confident ‘Hook’ will be amongst the contenders for the vacant position in the Hunter.

Anthony Griffin addressing the media.

We understand that Panthers winger Josh Mansour has put his beautiful Leonay home on the market, after moving to the area less than a year ago. It might not mean much, but it certainly poses a few interesting questions.

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