Masked Panther: How family is driving success at Penrith

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Family matters at Panthers

Don’t underestimate the power of family at the Panthers. It is something that has driven the squad for the past couple of seasons.

Just take a look at the smiles on Isaah Yeo, his partner Ashleigh and their young bubs after last Thursday’s win over the Rabbitohs at Accor Stadium.

So many of the players have young kids, and it’s ensured they’ve matured quicker than the average NRL player and kept them grounded.

History will show how important it was in this era of success.

The Yeo family last Thursday night. Photo: NRL Images.

Rest up

Panthers coach Ivan Cleary is likely to rest a host of stars for next Saturday night’s clash with North Queensland in Townsville.

Many of them won’t even make the trip up north and will remain home to prepare for the following weekend’s opening round of the Finals. I’d be very surprised if Api Koroisau and Isaah Yeo, among others, make the trip.

Shield is ours

The NRL were quick to approve Penrith’s request to be presented with the J.J. Giltinan Shield after Friday night’s clash with the Warriors at BlueBet Stadium.

After some back and forth between Penrith officials and the NRL on Friday morning, head office gave approval for the shield to be presented a week before the end of the regular season given the Panthers have wrapped up the Minor Premiership.

After some confusion at first, it’s been confirmed suspended co-captain Nathan Cleary can take to the field post-game to hoist the Shield with Isaah Yeo.

The J.J. Giltinan Shield. Photo: NRL Images.

May remains quiet

A huge chunk of the Penrith squad were put up for media interviews on Monday, but one notable name was missing: try-scoring machine Taylan May.

The winger, who turned 21 last week, hasn’t been put up for media opportunities all season, perhaps due to his upcoming court hearing in Queensland.

Marto drinks up

Liam Martin paid for his two bombed tries against the Rabbitohs last Thursday night by being encouraged to scull two beers post-game. He didn’t need too much convincing.


Panthers coach Ivan Cleary and wife Bec at the annual Pinot & Picasso Awards night last weekend. The couple own a franchise of the popular concept.


Nathan Cleary, Sean O’Sullivan and Mitch Kenny all enjoying lunch at Checho’s Mexican restaurant in Penrith last Friday.


Panthers enforcer Viliame Kikau taking some time out with his family in Darling Harbour last weekend.

Shirts on

Penrith has released a Minor Premiers t-shirt and poster for fans to collect. The shirt features several key Panthers players, along with a list of the entire squad alongside the Minor Premiers branding.

There will be no standard Finals shirt this year, though there will likely be a Grand Final and Premiers tee should the Panthers get that far. The Minor Premiers shirt is available from the Panthers website.

Grand Final Lunch

The NRL has scheduled its official Grand Final Luncheon for Friday, September 30 at the Fullerton Hotel in the city. Fox League and SEN broadcaster Andrew Voss will host the event, which will pay tribute to retiring players and preview the Grand Final itself.

Calling BlueBet home

Regardless of the ongoing stadium saga, you can lock in the 2023 season at BlueBet Stadium.

The Panthers have started negotiations with corporate partners and will soon put memberships for 2023 on sale.

Should the new stadium not go ahead at the Paceway for whatever reason and a re-build of the current venue is back on the table, my understanding is this would not start until the conclusion of the 2023 season.

BlueBet Stadium. Photo: NRL Photos.

Battle of the West III

There’s a long way to go before this scenario plays out but if the NRL ladder remains as is, and Parramatta finish fifth, it could set up a massive Panthers v Eels Preliminary Final.

That’s if Penrith win their opening Finals game and the Eels get through their first two matches. The game would likely be played at Accor Stadium. Approved venues for a week three Finals game in Sydney are Accor, CommBank Stadium and Allianz Stadium.

While a trip to the new Sydney Football Stadium would be nice, Accor would likely be the winner with a crowd of more than 50,000 likely. Meanwhile, the NRL has finally put Grand Final tickets on sale this week.

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