Masked Panther: Life of Brian going along swimmingly

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To’o keeps winning over fans

Brian To’o is quickly becoming one of the most liked players in the game. Not only is he playing above his weight on the field but he shows maturity beyond his years off it.

Last weekend at Magic Round he took off his boots, signed them and handed them over to a proud Panthers fan in the crowd, and it’s not the first time he’s done it.

The young supporter was totally overwhelmed by the gesture, and I’m sure she’ll remember it forever.

Brian To’o with the lucky fan. Photo: NRL Photos.

NRL not backing down

The NRL is defending its crackdown on high contact during Magic Round, saying it told clubs weeks ago that officials would be clamping down on the issue.

But perhaps the reason coaches and players were so vocal last weekend is that the crackdown wasn’t enforced the week before, despite the league telling clubs it would be. Referees were told in the lead-up to Magic Round that they weren’t following the edict handed down by the Commission, hence the debacle last weekend.

Clearly the NRL needs to recalibrate its approach – what happened last weekend simply wasn’t good enough, and it’s disappointing the NRL is showing no understanding of the major frustrations that exist across the game.

Players escape suspension

Moses Leota and Dylan Edwards were both hit with charges by the Match Review Committee after Penrith’s win over Gold Coast, but neither will face time on the sidelines. Both will cop a monetary fine only, while Liam Martin – who was placed on report for a fend that went a tad high – escaped charge.

Cleary turns lights out at Magic Round

“Has everybody gone home?”. Panthers coach Ivan Cleary was the last of 16 press conferences at Magic Round and despite the game’s media all being in town, not many stuck around to chat to the man who’s in charge of the Premiership favourites.

Only a few journos were left by the time Cleary fronted the media conference, and he made a note of thanking them for sticking around.

Ivan Cleary fronts his Magic Round press conference. Photo: NRL Photos.

Betting agency takes on Panthers

Latrell Mitchell returns to the Rabbitohs and they have firmed as the team to end the Panthers’ unbeaten run on Sunday. Sportsbet has turned Souths in from $3.50 to $3.10 to stop the Panthers from winning their 11th straight match.

If the Panthers, $3.00 favourites to win the Grand Final, take the points against Souths they are $21 to lose their next match against the Bulldogs. They have also tightened from $15 into $13 to go through the season unbeaten.


Panthers superstar Nathan Cleary taking photos with adoring fans after full-time at Suncorp Stadium last Sunday night.

Nathan Cleary taking photos with fans. Photo: NRL Photos.

Cleary’s Origin workload in question

Just how will Panthers coach Ivan Cleary manage halfback Nathan Cleary’s workload during the Origin period?

There’s technically only one game Cleary has to miss under the rules – and that’s the clash against the Wests Tigers in the lead-up to Origin I. But Penrith play just 48 hours after that first Origin in Melbourne, and despite the temptation to play their star halfback there’s every likelihood he’ll be rested with the long game in mind.

After Origin III, there’s a longer turnaround but a possible trip to New Zealand with the Panthers playing the Warriors on Sunday. July 18. It’ll be intriguing to watch how Penrith handle the Origin period, but the fact they’ve already banked 20 competition points has made the task slightly easier.

Mansour an “over-thinker”

Panthers co-captain Isaah Yeo has no doubt that Josh Mansour will have his old club on his mind in the lead-up to the Penrith v Souths game on Sunday.

“He’s an overthinker, so I’m sure it will be rolling around in his head. There probably won’t be too much talking until after the game I don’t think, he gets pretty serious,” Yeo said.

Ticket swaps in full swing

There’s been high level negotiations at the Panthers Academy this week as some of the squad’s country-born players tried to secure more tickets to Sunday’s game against Souths in Dubbo.

“I’ve got 32 tickets at the minute,” co-captain Isaah Yeo boasted.

Matt Burton added: “I got a fair few tickets. I’ve got 32 because I’ve been asking all the boys for theirs.”

Sad passing

Former Panthers Director Barry Hubbard has passed away. Mr Hubbard is a Life Member of the club.

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