Masked Panther: Merv Cartwright Medal postponed

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I hinted last week that a decision about this year’s Merv Cartwright Medal was imminent and the Panthers have now confirmed that the lavish event has been postponed. Corporate partners were informed last Friday that uncertainty surrounding the NRL ‘bubble’ and government restrictions meant it was not possible to proceed with the end-of-year celebration. It’s a shame given the stellar season Penrith has had but hopefully the club will find another way to honour the achievements of the players.

John Cartwright with 2019 Merv Cartwright Medal winner James Fisher-Harris. Photo: Penrith Panthers.

For the first time in what seems like an eternity, cameras were allowed back at Panthers training this week. Photographers and camera operators stayed well within social distancing regulations as they captured what appeared to be a very confident and buoyant training session.

The Panthers at training this week. Photo: Megan Dunn.

While the Panthers were earlier this week pushing for the Minor Premiership to be presented at Panthers Stadium in week one of the Finals (should the Panthers claim it), I’m told a more likely scenario is that the J.J. Giltinan Shield will be presented at ANZ Stadium after the Bulldogs game next weekend. That will ensure there’s no disruption ahead of a Finals game. Plenty of Penrith fans are expected to be able to attend the Bulldogs game.

James Tamou has agreed to terms with the Wests Tigers, with the joint venture club poised to announce his signature at any moment. The 31-year-old accepts Penrith needed to focus on youth.

James Tamou takes the ball forward for Penrith. Photo: NRL Images.

Penrith’s game against Parramatta last Friday night was watched by more than 300,000 people on Fox League, making it Penrith’s highest rated Fox game of the season. The 311,614 average was also 30 per cent up on Penrith’s 2020 season average on Fox League and 15 per cent up on the Friday night timeslot average. An average audience of 569,791 tuned in on Channel Nine, five per cent up on Penrith’s free-to-air season average.

Steve Carter at Murray’s.

Spotted: Panthers legend Steve Carter back in Penrith last week. He was grabbing a bite to eat at Murray’s Sandwiches and also attended the Battle of the West.

Spotted: 1991 Grand Final hero Royce Simmons still being stopped for photos at the Leagues Club almost 30 years after his premiership triumph.

You hear all about fashion first here in Panther Rumblings and I mentioned a few weeks ago that the 2020 Finals shirt would be on sale at last week’s game against the Eels. It was great to see so many people buying the shirt, which commemorates a terrific season. The shirt is also available from the Panthers Shop or website, but get in quick as stock is limited.

A supporter with the new Finals shirt. Photo: Megan Dunn.

This weekend is Women in League Round. This year’s special round carries the theme ‘from strength to strength’, paying tribute to the growing movement of females making an invaluable contribution to the betterment of the game overall.

Stephen Crichton is being considered as a bolter for Brad Fittler’s NSW side for the Origin series this year. If the lanky centre has a strong Finals series, don’t be surprised if he’s named for the series opener at Adelaide Oval on November 4.

Stephen Crichton. Photo: NRL Images.

Nobody wants to get too far ahead of themselves but I can reveal club officials have spoken about the likely chaos at Panthers Leagues Club if Penrith was to make the Grand Final in the COVID-19 era. Various plans are being considered for welcoming the team back should they go on to win the title. Everything is on the table – including possibly making the use of Panthers Stadium itself.

Despite extending their winning run to 13, the Panthers have lost premiership favourtism with the TAB. The Roosters are now the clear favourites at $2.90, with Penrith second at $3.75.

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