If the NSW Blues side was picked this week, I have no doubt at least five Penrith players would make the team.
Let’s go through the obvious ones first. Nathan Cleary would be a lay down misere for halfback, while hooker Api Koroisau would edge out Blues incumbent Damien Cook who has struggled badly for form this season.
Meanwhile, Isaah Yeo has done more than enough to grab a back-row spot and has been on NSW coach Brad Fittler’s radar for quite some time now.
The fourth Panther selected would be centre Stephen Crichton, yes he’s a relative rookie but has already scored 12 tries this season and is currently second on the NRL top tryscorers list. If there’s a better centre out there I’m yet to see him.
Finally, my smoky for a bench spot or even as 18th man would have to be backrower Liam Martin. Martin’s game has come on in leaps and bounds, and the 23-year-old runs like a bull at a gate and has plenty of mongrel about him.
How many players the Panthers finally contribute to Fittler’s Blues team in November will obviously depend on injuries and how far the team can go at the business end of the season.
Maybe five is being conservative.
What caught my eye last week…
The sick and sorry sight of the once powerful Broncos letting the Raiders virtually run over the top of them in the second half last week. It’s not even funny anymore, if it ever was in the first place.
What game I’m looking forward to…
Still four points out of the Top 8 the Tigers will have tougher opposition this week to beat if they still want to play in the Finals, which begin in just five weeks’ time. Their opponents, the Roosters, on the other hand have more injuries than a M*A*S*H unit and if they lose this one, are in danger of slipping out of the Top 4.
My tips for the week…
Eels, Panthers, Dragons, Raiders, Roosters, Rabbitohs, Warriors, Knights.
The final word…
I have to agree with sentiments expressed by Penrith legend Ryan Girdler on radio station Triple M when he said that the thugs who allegedly racially vilified Panthers winger Brent Naden need to be educated as well as being banned from ever attending another NRL game.
The NRL run several educational programs for players and officials which centre around the topic of racism, with former Indigenous star Preston Campbell being a key speaker.
Maybe he could teach these ‘young men’ a thing or two which will make them think twice before mouthing off racial taunts ever again.