Masked Panther: Panthers face development dilemma

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While Penrith’s NRL team will survive the Coronavirus crisis, even if footy doesn’t return this year, the club’s structure is likely to look very different when it comes to the lower grades and development. Panthers CEO Brian Fletcher has conceded that it’s unlikely the club will be able to continue funding development programs to the extent it has in the past.

Josh Mansour knows the impact of the current Coronavirus crisis confronting the NRL more than most. Before the season was suspended, Mansour was sent home by the Penrith doctor after he arrived at training with flu-like symptoms. “We were getting assessed in our car park before we stepped foot on to the venue. I had a bit of a running nose and the doctor assessed me. He thought I had a bit of a flu so they sent me home as a precaution straight away,” Mansour told The Daily Telegraph. Mansour is now training at home alone, managing the uncertain reality many NRL stars are dealing with at the moment.

Talking of Josh Mansour, he’s considering becoming a player agent post-footy. Maybe he can team up with Gus Gould!

Josh Mansour. Photo: Melinda Jane

Fox League is doing its best to keep footy fans engaged during this shutdown period, with ‘Fox League Live’ certainly providing some fun and news every morning and afternoon. Now, Foxtel is launching ‘Fox League Classics’, with the likes of Andrew Voss, Warren Smith and Dan Ginnane on deck to re-call old matches from the past. This weekend, Penrith’s thrilling 32-all draw with the Warriors in 2009 will be part of the coverage.

Panthers CEO Brian Fletcher has taken a significant pay cut due to the Coronavirus shutdown. Fletcher believes it’s important everyone wears some of the burden during the crisis, even though he’s still working hard while the doors are closed. Fletcher’s main focus is on ensuring the club comes back in good shape when the crisis is eventually over and restrictions are lifted.

Panthers CEO Brian Fletcher. Photo: Melinda Jane.

Spotted: Nobody.

The Panthers have launched the Panther Pride membership to allow members and fans to directly support the club and our community. It’s a donated membership designed to bring some joy to those in our community who are doing it tough. Panthers will work with charity partners to distribute every Panther Pride membership purchased to local families who have fallen on hard times. Check out for all the details.

If the NRL does return this year, the code’s bosses face several major hurdles when it comes to the broadcasters. While Fox League will be happy to show live games right up until Christmas, the same can’t be said for Channel Nine. Not only do they have competing priorities late in the year with other sporting commitments, but a December Finals series and Grand Final would fall in the non-ratings period. Watch this space.

The NRL has officially pulled the pin on Magic Round this year, but says the concept will return in 2021. “These are challenging times for our community and our game, but we had to take this action as there was simply no other option,” said NRL Chief Commercial Officer Andrew Abdo.

Big League editorial staff remain in good spirits despite the magazine being placed on hiatus during the NRL shutdown. The magazine’s publishers are confident it will return this year alongside the NRL competition.

Panthers captain James Tamou has gone bush during the NRL shutdown, deciding to spend some time on his family farm at Braidwood.

With the NRL suspended, the time has come for yours truly to hang up the keyboard – for now. The sensible decision has been made to suspend Extra Time for the time being, until such time that the competition is back. I’m heading off to the Panther Cave to watch as many old games as I can find. See you on the flip side!

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