Masked Panther: Ciraldo decision looms

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Sharks circle Ciraldo

Penrith assistant coach Cameron Ciraldo has been formally approached by Cronulla about joining the club next season to work alongside his long-time friend Craig Fitzgibbon.

Ciraldo has spoken with Penrith coach Ivan Cleary and club officials are aware of the situation. Ciraldo is likely to make a decision in the coming weeks about what his future looks like.

The Sharks axed coach John Morris in brutal fashion on Tuesday, with Josh Hannay taking over until Fitzgibbon arrives.

Cameron Ciraldo and Ivan Cleary. Photo: NRL Images.

Naden linked with Bulldogs

Brent Naden’s future at Penrith is looking more and more clouded with constant speculation about his future. The latest rumour doing the rounds is that Naden could link up with former Penrith assistant coach Trent Barrett at Canterbury.

Naden is off-contract at the end of the year and appears to have fallen out of favour at the Panthers, particularly following the cocaine scandal that rocked the Grand Final aftermath. The Wests Tigers have also been mentioned as a possible destination for Naden.

Luai set for Origin call-up

It’s looking more and more likely that Jarome Luai will make his State of Origin debut later this year, pairing with Nathan Cleary in the halves for the Blues.

I’m told Blues coach Brad Fittler is favouring the duo given their strong club combination, rather than partnering Cleary – a shoo-in for the number 7 jumper – with South Sydney’s Cody Walker or another five-eighth.

Jarome Luai and Nathan Cleary. Photo: Megan Dunn.

Panthers lose respected team member

Highly regarded Medical and Rehabilitation Coordinator Craig Catterick is departing the Panthers. Catterick is a favourite of Penrith coach Ivan Cleary and has been instrumental in getting plenty of the club’s injured brigade back on the field. He’s been poached by the NRL and will start a new job at League HQ in the coming weeks.

Stars eye return in Bathurst

Both Dylan Edwards and Api Koroisau are set to return from their respective injuries for Penrith’s game against Manly in Bathurst in Round 8.

Brandy granted reprieve

Brandy made it! In the end Greg Alexander attended last Friday night’s 1991 Grand Final reunion at BlueBet Stadium without any stress, after being granted a last minute leave pass from Fox Sports. It meant Brandy could mix with fans and sponsors before taking part in the lap of honour, which was a huge success.

Greg Alexander. Photo: Megan Dunn.

Arrogance? You’ve seen nothing yet

The Stephen Crichton contrary conduct charge stemming out of the Panthers v Raiders match last Friday night was perhaps the biggest storm in a teacup we’ll see this season.

It was ironic that the charge came about in a weekend where the great Tommy Raudonikis was celebrated. On one hand we love the larrikins and characters in our game, on the other we demand our players be robots.

There was nothing in the incident. For the story to then explode into a narrative around Penrith’s arrogance was extraordinary.

Stadium capacity reduced

The capacity for upcoming games at BlueBet Stadium will be a lot less than the more than 20,000 that packed in for the game against the Raiders last Friday night. A misunderstanding of COVID-19 rules between the Panthers, the NRL and the State Government meant too many tickets were sold for the hills last Friday night, a situation that has now been rectified.

Salty skipper

I’m told that Canberra skipper Jarrod Croker was extremely salty after last week’s loss to Penrith and the crowd’s mock of the Viking Clap. So much so that some of his thoughts and comments were so ‘out there’, that at least one journalist refused to print them.


1991 Grand Final hero Royce Simmons finding someone in the crowd he hasn’t had a schooner with and suggesting the situation be rectified post-game. We have no doubt it was.

Photo: Megan Dunn

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