Lang on League: Why painful 2014 memories won’t stop the 2020 Panthers

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Josh Mansour is the only player who was part of the Penrith side which last made and ultimately lost the Preliminary Final 18-12 in 2014.

This is but one reason why history will not repeat itself on Saturday night when the Panthers take on the South Sydney Rabbitohs for the chance to progress to the 2020 NRL Grand Final.

With Mansour being the sole survivor from that team, there are no scars for the remaining 16 players to take into the encounter. For the record, the side which took to the field that day against the Dogs was: Matt Moylan, Josh Mansour, Dean Whare, Jamal Idris, Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, Will Smith, Jamie Soward, Sam McKendry, James Segeyaro, Brent Kite, Sika Manu, Matt Robinson, Adam Docker. Int: Nigel Plum, Jeremy Latimore, Ben Murdoch-Masila, Lewis Brown.

A handy side but one also missing some of its most experienced players through injury including Bryce Cartwright, Kevin Kingston, Peter Wallace, Tim Grant, Elijah Taylor and Tyrone Peachey.

Canterbury celebrate their 2014 Preliminary Final win. Photo: NRL Images.

In 2020, apart from Viliame Kikau being suspended, the Panthers are at full strength and the combinations are set. Unlike the team above, this year Penrith will have their first choice ‘spine’ available to start the game.

More importantly, we also have the same coach in Ivan Cleary guiding this 2020 team, just as he did in his third season with Penrith in 2014.

That season, Cleary won Dally M Coach of the Year for guiding a young, largely inexperienced side with a sprinkling of veterans to the second last weekend of the NRL season.

Panthers coach Ivan Cleary. Photo: NRL Images.

In 2020, Cleary is a frontrunner to win the Dally M Coach of the Year for coaching a young, largely inexperienced side with a sprinkling of veterans to (hopefully) the 2020 NRL Grand Final.

Cleary may be the same coach but he’s different as well. He’s also the reason why history won’t repeat itself again this Saturday night.

What caught my eye last week…

Last weekend the two Finals games flowed nicely and there were no major refereeing decisions that cost any team the game.

There has been a noticeable improvement in the standard of refereeing over the last two weeks.

Here’s hoping that the outcome of the two Finals games this weekend are once again decided by the players.

My tips for the week…

Panthers to defeat the Rabbitohs and Storm to beat the Raiders to both qualify for the 2020 NRL Grand Final at ANZ Stadium next Sunday.

The final word…

Former Panthers and Roosters centre and current Eel Michael Jennings may have played his last game of rugby league.

He faced a rude awakening last Saturday morning when officials from Sports Integrity Australia informed him at 6am that he had returned a positive test result for banned ‘steriod based’ substances Ligandrol and Ibutamoren.

He was immediately slapped with a provisional suspension until his second sample is tested.

Jennings has since professed his innocence, I hope the second sample proves his claim.

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