Masked Panther: Crichton going nowhere

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Fear not Panthers fans, exciting centre Stephen Crichton won’t be going anywhere. He may not have officially signed on the dotted line yet, but the 19-year-old will be at the club until at least the end of 2024. I’m told there’s a few administrative hold-ups in the back end delaying an official announcement, but Crichton is well and truly locked in at the foot of the Mountains.

Stephen Crichton. Photo: NRL Images.

It was no surprise to see Penrith submit a swift early guilty plea to Viliame Kikau’s Dangerous Contact charge stemming out of Friday night’s win over Cronulla. The chance of defending the charge and winning was small, but regardless, the Panthers are quite comfortable with any rest opportunities that emerge for the main squad. It’s an opportunity to give others a run who certainly need some game time should they be required during the Finals. Kikau will be back for next week’s game against the Broncos.

Also likely to be back next week is hooker Api Koroisau, who will miss Saturday’s clash with the Tigers due to a calf injury. However, given the short turnaround (Penrith play next Thursday) don’t be surprised if Cleary gives his star number nine an extra week off.

Api Koroisau has been in great form for Penrith. Photo: NRL Images.

Scoop confirmed: I’d mentioned a few times this season that the Panthers were close to re-signing Liam Martin. The deal was done last week and the Blues forward-in-waiting has locked away his signature until the end of the 2023 season. “I’m really grateful and excited to know I’ll be at Panthers for the next few years,” Martin said.

A number of journalists out there seem determined to convince Matt Burton that he should be looking elsewhere given he can’t find his way into Penrith’s first grade team. As I reported a few weeks ago, Burton is going nowhere and tabloid headlines won’t change that. The 20-year-old is keen to stay at Penrith to see what eventuates. The club won’t keep him forever if a first grade spot doesn’t eventually arise, but he’s got no intention of a departure any time soon.

Charlie Staines has been given permission to test the open market but he too would prefer to stay at Penrith.

Former Panthers coach Anthony Griffin – one of the most successful modern coaches without a job – may finally land himself a gig. He’s said to be the favourite for the vacant coaching position at St George-Illawarra.

Former Panthers coach Anthony Griffin.

The limited ticket allocation for Saturday’s clash against Wests Tigers at Panthers Stadium has been exhausted. All available tickets for the Round 16 fixture were redeemed by Panthers full season members in just eight hours on Monday. Due to government restrictions and member demand, tickets to Panthers home games will continue to be available only to full season ticketed members for the foreseeable future.

We’re being encouraged to show our Panther Pride on Friday, September 4 by wearing a jersey around town. Whether it’s to work, the pub or just out and about, make sure you put on your favourite jersey as part of Jersey Day.

Hold on to your hats folks – the Penrith Panthers are now 2020 NRL Premiership favourites. The TAB has adjusted its market and the Panthers are now $3.75 favourites to lift the trophy on Grand Final day. It is an extraordinary turnaround considering the club didn’t make the Finals last year and was considered an outside chance of winning the comp back before a ball was kicked in March. Melbourne and the Roosters are equal second favourites at $4.00.

Current Huddersfield coach and former Canberra Raiders hooker Simon Woolford is being tipped as a possible replacement for Trent Barrett as Penrith’s assistant coach next season.

The Weekender ran on online piece last week calling for a ‘big panther’ to be built in the Penrith CBD. And the concept may have some high profile support, with State Penrith MP Stuart Ayres immediately Tweeting the article, declaring: “I’m liking this Panther statue idea”. Let’s make this happen!

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