Masked Panther: Critter’s Blues dream

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Crichton harbours Origin dream

Panthers centre Stephen Crichton still harbours a dream of playing for the Blues.

But Crichton has admitted if he’s ever going to get a taste of Origin in the near future, he’s going to have to take his game to another level. While the St Clair junior enjoyed a breakout season in 2020 – named Dally M Centre of the Year – he has struggled to reach the heights of last season largely due to spending several games at fullback in place of Dylan Edwards.

“With those Origin boys not here, I’ve got to step up my game as well. I can’t be an average player on the field because that won’t get me anywhere,” Crichton said.

Panthers centre Stephen Crichton. Photo: Melinda Jane.

Origin won’t be moving

Penrith fans can scream the joint down all they like, Origin at the end of the season won’t happen. Nor will stopping the comp for anywhere from three to six weeks mid-year so the game’s showpiece can stand alone.

Clubs will have to continue to manage the imperfect system of Origin impacting club football.

The reality is the best teams usually go on to win the competition and managing the Origin period is simply part of the challenge. Channel Nine don’t want games played on Sundays, so you can forget Origin being played on three consecutive weekends. And an end-of-season series opens up a host of new issues that can’t really be overcome. Suck it up and deal with the price of success.

May still likely to earn new contract

Pictures of Tyrone May seem to be on dart boards right across the Penrith region and the 24-year-old was even dropped by coach Ivan Cleary for this weekend’s clash with the Roosters. Still, I’m told it’s highly likely May will sign a new deal with Penrith for the 2022 season.

Panthers on slight betting drift

The Panthers have drifted in TAB’s Premiership betting for the first time this season after the Storm took over top spot on the NRL ladder.

Melbourne’s odds have shortened from $3.50 into $3.25 after their win over the Warriors and while Penrith remain title favourites, they have moved out slightly from $2.75 to $2.80 following a second straight loss during the State of Origin period.

With 12 tries each, Panthers star Matt Burton and Eels Skipper Clint Gutherson have been the big movers in the Top Try Scorer market after closing within three of leader Josh Addo-Carr. Burton’s price has been cut from $34 into $15 after seven tries in four games, while Gutherson has tightened from $51 into $17 after being out to $101 at one stage.


Nathan Cleary having an emotional hug with his mother Bec after full-time at Origin I last Wednesday night.

Nathan Cleary and his mum Bec after Origin I. Photo: NRL Photos.

Cleary labelled game’s best by peers

Nathan Cleary has been named the best player in the game by his peers. A Players Poll published in The Sydney Morning Herald on Monday saw 33 per cent of NRL players say Cleary was the game’s best, with Tom Trbojevic coming in second with 24 per cent, followed by James Tedesco on 18 per cent.

Meantime, Ivan Cleary was named the second best coach by the players, with 26 per cent of the vote – four points behind Storm mentor Craig Bellamy.

Kikau told to lift his game

I’m told the form of Viliame Kikau is concerning a number of Penrith officials and members of the coaching staff.

Kikau needs to take his game to another level now that opposition sides have started to work out how to contain the man mountain, but he’s failing to fire at present.

Kikau is out injured this weekend but officials are said to be demanding improvement once he returns after the bye. Watch this space.

Viliame Kikau needs to find some form. Photo: NRL Photos.

All eyes on Dom

The State Budget is due to be handed down by NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet on Tuesday.

While Budgets are about as boring as watching Wests Tigers highlights videos, this one will be keenly observed by Penrith fans – with a Panthers Stadium upgrade / re-build very much on the cards. There’s a chance details of the announcement may leak early, so keep an eye out over the weekend.

Remembering Ben Alexander

This is always a sad time of year around the Panthers, as we remember the passing of Ben Alexander. Alexander was just 20 when he was killed in a car accident at Colyton on June 21, 1992 – 29 years ago. His death rocked the Penrith community and tore the Panthers apart. Our thoughts go out to the Alexander family during what’s a difficult time of year.

Ben Alexander. Photo: Penrith Panthers.

Get in touch

Heard some gossip? Spotted a Panther out and about? I don’t keep secrets but I do protect my sources. Email [email protected].

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