Masked Panther: Panthers bemused by Koroisau rumours

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Api Koroisau during his first stint with Penrith.

A number of mainstream NRL journalists were certain that Manly’s Api Koroisau was heading to the Bulldogs next year, but Penrith officials sat back bemused and watched all the speculation unfold. Despite the journalists in question trying to suggest that Koroisau changed his mind at the last minute and joined the Panthers over the Bulldogs, the truth is the Panthers had the deal signed, sealed and delivered well before those Canterbury rumours emerged. The 26-year-old’s deal with Penrith will see him stay at the club until at least the end of 2022 and solves Penrith’s dummy half problem.

Trent Barrett’s return to Penrith next year is part of a wider shake-up of Ivan Cleary’s support staff for next season. Cleary has been monitoring the staff he inherited from Anthony Griffin when he joined the Panthers late last year and was always considering a re-shuffle for 2020. One man who may depart the club is assistant coach Cameron Ciraldo, who has been linked with a job at Newcastle for next year.

Future uncertain? Cameron Ciraldo

I kid you not: The Daily Telegraph actually asked the Panthers where the team’s Mad Monday celebrations were going to be held next week. I don’t think they got the answer they were hoping for.

The Panthers have confirmed a partnership with Penrith-based OnePointHealth, which will provide health care services for the club’s junior representative programs, including the SG Ball and Harold Matthews squads, as well as the club’s Country Rugby League squads, from next season. OnePointHealth, which is located on High Street, provides a range of health services including podiatry, physiotherapy, sports medicine, massage therapy and other specialists.

Spotted: Penrith coach Ivan Cleary and trainer Peter Wallace at the launch of Pink Up Penrith last week.

The rumours just won’t go away surrounding Jared Waerea-Hargreaves and a three-year deal with the Panthers. He could replace Reagan Campbell-Gillard who will almost certainly be moving on at the end of the season.

Reagan Campbell-Gillard

I reported a couple of weeks ago that Josh Mansour had put his Leonay home on the market, sparking questions about his future at the club. While the Panthers have been disappointed with Mansour’s performances on the wing this season, there’s no suggestion he won’t be at Penrith next year. Word is the decision to put his home up for sale is related to wanting to move closer to family.

The Panthers have again shown their support to local charity WestCare. Members of the club’s Board are due to attend WestCare’s annual dinner at The Coffee Club Nepean River tonight. Panthers coach Ivan Cleary and his wife Bec are also scheduled to be in attendance, while former Panthers CEO Glenn Matthews is also set to be there. The event is always a massive success and one of the hottest charity tickets in town.

While there’s no Finals football for Penrith’s NRL team this year, the Canterbury Cup and Jersey Flegg sides commence their Finals campaigns this weekend. In the Canterbury Cup, the fifth placed Panthers face the eighth placed Wentworthville in an elimination match on Saturday, September 7 at 10.45am at Campbelltown Stadium. Later that day at 4.30pm at the same venue, Penrith’s third placed Jersey Flegg side will battle the second placed Sydney Roosters in a Qualifying Final.

Good news: The Weekender has signed on to partner with the Panthers for a further two seasons, extending a long-term sponsorship. Corporate partners of Extra Time will be happy to know the Weekender is moving to the Chairman’s Lounge in 2020 and 2021, and departing its Corporate Box. I never received an invite to the Box, so my chances of securing a spot at the Chairman’s Lounge tables seem small; however anyone interested in watching the Panthers in style next season should contact the paper’s sales team.

The sponsorship announcement above means that the Weekender has rushed to re-sign yours truly for another two years. Despite big offers from elsewhere, I’ve agreed to return in 2020 and 2021. See you then and have a great summer!

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