Lang on League: Panthers have surprised everyone

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If you had have told me at the start of the season that Penrith would be sitting on top of the ladder at the halfway point of the competition, I would have had you arrested for stupidity.

Yet here they are, eight wins, one draw and only one solitary loss. No one is getting ahead of themselves and there’s still plenty of improvement left in the team but then you don’t want to peak too early.

After all the Grand Final is played in October not July.

Impressive victories over the Roosters, Storm and Wests Tigers are undoubtedly the highlights while the emergence of youngsters Stephen Crichton and Matt Burton show that the Panthers have a lot to look forward to for years to come.

The signing of Api Koroisau, while being the key to much of the side’s success, shouldn’t overshadow the ‘on-field’ maturing of halfback Nathan Cleary. Cleary was told at the start of pre-season, that this was his side to run and he has done a remarkable job of it so far.

The next big test for the Panthers is to go on with it. With injuries starting to bite and fatigue about to set in, there’s still a lot of boxes the team has to tick before the big end of season games start in 10 weeks’ time.

Something tells me, they might just make it to the ‘big dance’ after all.
Now, wouldn’t that be something?

What caught my eye last week…

I felt sorry for Broncos coach Anthony Seibold last Thursday. It just hasn’t worked out for him and he looked so despondent as he addressed the media after Brisbane’s seventh loss in eight games.

We talk about looking after the mental health of players, I just hope somebody is looking after Seibold’s health as well.

What game I’m looking forward to…

The Eels v Tigers is definitely the match of the round. Parramatta will be looking to bounce back after a poor showing against Manly while the Tigers will want to beat a real contender to show that they’re a real contender.

My tips for the week…

Eels, Sea Eagles, Storm, Roosters, Sharks, Raiders, Knights, Panthers.

The final word…

I really hope Trent Barrett knows what he’s doing accepting a three-year deal to coach the Bulldogs from 2021.

As a Panthers supporter I can be accused of being salty but I can promise you that’s not the case. The Dogs, at the moment, are a basketcase OFF the paddock more than they are on it.

I hope it works out for him because I have a feeling he won’t be welcomed back a third time by the Panthers if it doesn’t.

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