Kikau likely to be in demand
The report that emerged last week about St George-Illawarra being interested in Penrith enforcer Viliame Kikau is the first of many we’re likely to hear in the coming months.
As I reported a few weeks ago, Kikau is very unlikely to re-sign with Penrith before November 1, which means he’ll be on the open market for the 2023 season and able to hold discussions with rival clubs and codes. And once that happens, it obviously throws 2022 into some doubt.
Kikau will be turning 27 early next year, so this is a big contract for him. The reality is if he chooses to chase cash, he probably won’t be at Penrith – the club won’t pay overs, but others will certainly open the cheque book.
Merv Cartwright Medal cancelled
The Panthers are resigned to the fact that the Merv Cartwright Medal will be cancelled for a second consecutive year.
Even if restrictions do start to ease in September and October, the chances of a major function like that being within the rules is extremely unlikely.
I’d expect the club will again announce its major awards in a virtual ceremony.
Dally Ms could go ahead at Suncorp
One thing that hopefully won’t be virtual is the Dally M Awards. The NRL is working to potentially present the awards as early as September 6, possibly as an outdoor event at Suncorp Stadium.
The ceremony has been held during Grand Final Week in recent times but most clubs would have left Queensland by the time early October rolls around, so the league is considering holding the event straight after the regular season.
May ready for return
The Panthers expect Tyrone May to be fit and ready to return from a leg injury against the Tigers next weekend. May is likely to be used off the bench during the Finals.
Wrecking ball picks up ankle injury
Spencer Leniu has been added to the club’s injury list after picking up a minor ankle injury against the Roosters a fortnight ago.
The 20-year-old has been working strongly in rehab and could be available for next week’s clash with the Tigers, but a return against Parramatta is more likely.
Finals merch released
Most of us are cheering for the boys from home at the moment, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be decked out in the latest gear.
The club last week released its 2021 Panthers Finals Series T-Shirt for pre-order, with deliveries expected to commence from early next week. The shirt is a beauty and is a must-have for all collectors.
Queensland road trip for final three weeks
The Panthers will finish the season in Brisbane, Redcliffe and the Gold Coast after the NRL confirmed the schedule for the remaining three rounds of the competition.
Friday night’s clash against Souths is at Suncorp Stadium, while the match against the Tigers next Sunday afternoon will be at Moreton Daily Stadium in Redcliffe. Cbus Super Stadium on the Gold Coast will host the end-of-season blockbuster derby against the Eels.
Thoughts with Tevita
Our thoughts are very much with Tevita Pangai Junior, who returned to training with Penrith this week and was named in the squad for the clash against the Rabbitohs on Friday night.
Tevita and his partner Anna farewelled their little girl, who was stillborn, at a private service over the weekend. The pair shared some heart-wrenching photos on social media. It really puts things into perspective.
Big numbers on Fox
Penrith continues to draw big audiences on Fox League, with an average of 258,727 viewers tuning in to last Friday night’s clash against the Dragons. That’s six per cent up on the Round 22 average. Both Fox and Channel Nine are expecting potential season-best figures for Friday night’s Panthers v Rabbitohs blockbuster.
Scoreboard tossed away like rubbish
An episode of ‘The Fan’ on Fox League last Saturday night revealed what we all pretty much knew – the old, famous Panther scoreboard was never carefully placed in storage to preserve its huge historical value despite what was said at the time.
Former footy boss Phil Gould oversaw it being dismantled and simply thrown away.