They say the little things win you premierships, the one percenters that separate the good teams from the great.
On Monday, when everyone was enjoying their Labour Day holiday at home on the lounge, Panthers players were arriving to training 90 minutes early to begin preparations for a game still 12 days away.
“You can see it in everyone’s eyes, everyone was so keen to be here on Monday. We were supposed to be here at 12.30pm but everyone rocked up at 11am,” Penrith forward Zane Tetevano said.
“We’re all keen to be amongst everyone and get this next fortnight prepped. That’s where a lot of our confidence comes from – the way we train and making sure we fix up our fundamentals.”
The one percenters.
If anyone knows what it takes to win grand finals it’s 29-year-old Tetevano, he was part of the back-to-back premierships the Roosters won in 2018 and 2019.
While the Kiwi international wasn’t selected for the Chooks in their victory over the Canberra Raiders last season, he was still given a premiership ring by Roosters coach Trent Robinson for his huge contribution during the year.
After burying his 2018 ring with his late grandfather, Tetevano said he’s pictured himself winning a third in Panthers colours.
“I’m not going to lie, I have visualised those moments but then I have to pull myself back. I passed my ‘18 ring off to my grandfather who passed away in 2018, which I’m proud I did. Last year Trent Robinson gave me his ring, but I think winning one with Penrith will be very special to me as well,” he said.
“I’m looking forward to it, but I don’t want to get too far ahead.”
While Tetevano won’t admit it publicly, last Friday night’s narrow win over his former club would’ve have been sweeter than a bar of Whittaker’s chocolate.
“I just kept it to myself,” Tetevano said of coming up against the Roosters.
“I just wanted to play for my teammates and do really well for them. I didn’t think anything of it, it was just exciting playing against a top tier team who have won back-to-back premierships.”
While Penrith got the job done 29-28 and earned a vital week’s rest, the Pacific Sharks junior said his side still have plenty to address before next weekend’s Preliminary Final.
“We just need to work on the things we didn’t do too well on the weekend,” he said.
“Despite being part of many Finals games, even I was nervous last weekend. But you just have to help each other out to get past it. That’s what this team does really well – we work hard for each other.”
Nathan Taylor is the Weekender’s Deputy Editor and Senior Sports Writer. He also compiles the weekly Chatter on the Box TV column. Nathan is an award-winning journalist, who has worked at the Weekender for nearly a decade.