There’s “no easy games in the NRL” – that’s how Panthers centre Paul Momirovski is approaching this Saturday’s first versus last encounter against the Canterbury Bulldogs at BlueBet Stadium.
While most bookies have installed Penrith as $1.01 favourites for the first time in club history, the team itself is feeling a little more conservative despite piling on 56 points against heavyweights Souths last weekend to remain undefeated.
Speaking with the Weekender on Tuesday, Momirovski said no matter the opposition, the club takes every match seriously.
“Like the club did all of last year – whoever we verse we prepare the same, and that’s the same mentality we’ve had this year,” he said.
“It doesn’t matter who’s out there, any team is talented enough to win games in this competition.
“It comes down to our mentality and how we prepare. This team is professional, this coaching staff is professional, and we will prepare the same way we prepare for any other game.”
With fullback Dylan Edwards succumbing to a mild hamstring injury, Momirovski returned to the line-up last Sunday in Dubbo after serving a three-match suspension.
The 24-year-old was initially due back in Round 10 against the Titans, however the scintillating form of Matt Burton in the centres prevented him from getting his starting spot back straight away.
Momirovski said he wasn’t ‘kicking stones’ during his layoff but knew it would be hard to regain his spot in such a star-studded side.
“I knew from the get go once I got suspended that it was going to be hard to get back into the team, but this is an environment you want to be in, so I’m still happy,” he said.
“I think everyone in the team wants to be playing, but we haven’t lost a game, so it’s hard to get back into the team.
“That’s the level we are at right now – it’s competitive and wherever the club wants me to play, that’s what I’ll do.”
Momirovski has retained his number three jersey this round and is expected to be there for several weeks to come with more than a dozen Panthers players in the mix for a State of Origin berth.
The former Tiger said there’s been “no talk of Origin internally” amongst the playing group.
“Those boys will get the rewards when the time comes but, for us, it’s week in, week out, and that’s what I said about this team being so professional,” Momirovski said.
“Nothing externally comes into it. These boys just play week in, week out, enjoying themselves and hopefully a few of them get rewarded for it.”
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 a decade.