Members of Penrith’s 2003 NRL Premiership-winning team will reassemble this Saturday in Newcastle for the 2019 Legends of League tournament.
For the first time in the tournament’s short history, Penrith – wearing their classic Chocolate Soldiers jerseys – will make their debut at the popular Nines competition. Other teams competing include Brisbane, Canterbury, Newcastle, Parramatta and the Barbarians.
Grand Final-winning captain Craig Gower will lead Penrith once again alongside many of his 2003 teammates including Trent Waterhouse, Rhys Wesser, Paul Whatuira, Joe Galuvao, Tony Puletua, Joel Clinton, Shane Rodney, Luke Rooney and Luke Swain.
Other ex-Panthers set to take part include Frank Puletua, Matt Cross, Kevin Kingston, Danny Galea, Shane Elford and Nathan Smith. Two-time Premiership winner Luke Lewis will coach the side.
Speaking with the Weekender, Gower said he never thought he’d captain the side again after leaving the Panthers in controversial circumstances back in 2007.
“Probably not… but it’s going to be good fun getting the boys back together,” he said.
“I’ve played the last couple of years as a member of the Barbarians team and it’s always a fantastic weekend for the boys to catch up and have a bit of fun.”
While Penrith didn’t hold any team training sessions before Saturday’s slate of matches, players like 41-year-old Gower have been training in their own time to prepare.
“A few of us have been training for it, I’ve been training at the Academy and so has Spud Elford,” he said.
“It does get a tad serious out there – Canterbury have been training for it and they take it very seriously. It will be good to get the competitive juices flowing again, no one wants to get beat.”
Other big names set to take part in the Legends of League tournament at McDonald Jones Stadium in Newcastle include Wendell Sailor, Steve Menzies, Danny Buderus, Nathan Hindmarsh, Andrew Ryan, Matt Bowen, Willie Mason, Kurt Gidley, Scott Prince, Todd Carney and Tim Mannah.
Teams will battle it out over six hours for the Legends of League title and $75,000 worth of prize money.
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.