Masked Panther: Panthers head into camp to prepare for Finals

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Bonding plan ahead of run home

The Panthers spent a few days this week in camp on the NSW South Coast, aimed at a bit of bonding ahead of the most important part of the season.

Perhaps the side is trying to replicate the extremely close bond that was developed during the bubble-like conditions in Queensland for the back part of the season last year, forced by the COVID relocation.

“We’re getting away for the week, it was planned a long time ago. It was good timing to get our boys to reconnect,” coach Ivan Cleary said.

Cleary goes early

The NRL requires coaches to speak to the media before each game but it doesn’t specify when that has to be.

Penrith coach Ivan Cleary has made a habit of doing his pressers early in the week of late, which tends to avoid any speculation about ins and outs for that weekend or being forced to talk up potential debutants.

The early-week presser was extremely popular this week, given journalists were eager to hear more from Ivan about Nathan Cleary’s suspension.

Penrith coach Ivan Cleary. Photo: Melinda Jane.

No challenge

The Panthers were at one stage keen to contest Nathan Cleary’s Grade 3 Dangerous Throw charge at the NRL judiciary, which would have sparked a media circus surrounding the tackle on Parramatta’s Dylan Brown.

Plenty within Penrith believe it should have been a Grade 2 charge.

Coach Ivan Cleary also confirmed there was a school of thought around contesting the grading.

“Look, we definitely thought we had a case there but in the end, the risk was too high for him to lose another week,” he said.

Nathan Cleary is sent-off against the Eels. Photo: NRL Images.


Parramatta legend and merchandise guru Peter Wynn catching up with Panthers forward Liam Martin at CommBank Stadium last Friday night.

Peter Wynn with Liam Martin.

Harlow’s NRL crossover

The well publicised visit by the Panthers to Jack Harlow’s Sydney show was not just about the boys enjoying a night out. Harlow is part of Fox League’s Finals campaign and has done some work with the Panthers players that will be revealed in the next couple of weeks.

Squad finalised

The Panthers opted not to join the rush of player swaps and loans ahead of the August 1 deadline, instead promoting from within to finalise their top 30 squad for the season. Sunia Turuva and Thomas Jenkins, who were both NRL Development Players in 2022, have been promoted to the top 30. The club has also promoted Liam Henry to the Development list.

Ayres fallout could have impact on stadium

It’s safe to say that there’s some very nervous people at the Panthers at the moment in regards to the future of the new stadium development.

With Penrith MP Stuart Ayres quitting the ministry and facing an investigation for potentially misleading parliament (he denies any wrongdoing), the project’s biggest advocate has been sidelined. Add to that the current stoush over funding for other venues and the spotlight being put on the Penrith development from some within the media, and you’d be mad not to suggest there’s at least some sort of doubt hanging over the plan.

The Panthers are also eagerly watching developments around the Grand Final, given they likely have a vested interest in where it’ll be played.

Retro jersey

If you love your footy jerseys, you won’t want to miss the Panthers 1991 retro away jersey that will be out later this month. Pre-orders are being taken now on The white jersey is emblazoned with the classic Dahdah Uniforms sponsorship, and old NSWRL branding.

Critter to return with new look

Stephen Crichton will have a different look when he runs out against the Raiders on Saturday. The centre will wear headgear for the rest of the season, a result of that serious injury he suffered a few weeks back against Cronulla.

We spotted Critter in the crowd at CommBank Stadium last week and he was still very much nursing his wounds. Ivan Cleary is convinced Crichton will pull off the new look.

“He’ll probably own it, he’ll make it cool somehow,” he joked.

Stephen Crichton. Photo: NRL Images.

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