Masked Panther: Simmons inspires next generation

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Panthers legend inspires

None of the Year 10 kids at St Dominic’s College were alive when Royce Simmons scored two tries to help Penrith to the 1991 Premiership, but that doesn’t lessen the impact of the club legend’s words.

Simmons spoke with students at the school on Monday, delivering an engaging conversation about his life and career. The former hooker had the boys hooked on his every word.

Royce Simmons with St Dominic’s College students on Monday. Photo: Melinda Jane.

Backing the Panthers

Penrith City Council will launch a significant backing of the Panthers’ push for another Premiership, determined to avoid some of the criticism that surrounded its support back in 2020.

Council was quick to issue a media release with an official congratulations from the Mayor minutes after the presentation of the J.J. Giltinan Shield last Friday night.

Council has promised a “range of highly visible activations” through Penrith as the tilt for back-to-back titles rolls on. While Penrith was in lockdown in 2021, some were critical of Council’s lack of activations in the lead-up to the 2020 Grand Final.

Grand Final Luncheon

The Panthers will be hosting a Grand Final Luncheon for corporate partners in the lead-up to the Grand Final. The event will be held on Friday, September 30 and the club is aiming to make it a regular part of their corporate offerings for sponsors each year, regardless of if Penrith is in the decider or not. A similar lunch was held in 2020.


Former Panthers Chairman Dave O’Neill in the sheds joining in the celebrations of Penrith’s win over the Warriors last Friday night. O’Neill remains very close to many at Panthers despite his exit from the Board earlier this year, including his good friend, head coach Ivan Cleary.


The entire Panthers first grade team enjoying lunch at Tins and Wood in Penrith last Thursday.

Live Merv

The 2022 Merv Cartwright Medal will be livestreamed for fans to watch on Monday, September 12. The event will be held at the EVAN Theatre with corporate partners, players and special guests in attendance. The livestream will be available on the official Panthers website.

Staines set to exit

I told you back in June that Charlie Staines was set to leave Penrith at the end of the season with the 21-year-old unlikely to find a permanent first grade spot in Ivan Cleary’s side.

There’s been more talk around this in the past week, as Staines looks for a club that will fit him into their regular starting 13. He’s at long odds to be at the foot of the Mountains next year.

It’s just about finding the right club from here, and determining what Penrith may have to pay towards the deal.

Charlie Staines. Photo: NRL Images.

Friday’s a great night for football

Penrith’s home Final is likely to be played on Friday, September 9. The NRL will officially confirm the week one schedule on Sunday night but with Cronulla and Canberra both playing on Sunday, and the Raiders set to make the top eight, neither side will be forced to back-up on Friday night.

That means Penrith’s match is firming to be the opening game of the Finals, particularly given the NRL usually favours a top four game in this slot.

Tickets will go on sale to members at 10am on Monday, and to the general public 24 hours later.

Going private

The Panthers are taking the Finals so seriously that they’ve paid for a charter flight in and out of Townsville this weekend.

While plenty of the first grade side is being rested and won’t head north for the Cowboys game, coach Ivan Cleary wants to avoid all possible delays and long flight schedules.

It’ll be a smash-and-grab trip to Townsville with the focus to very quickly switch to the Finals.

Early start

You can almost guarantee that the 2023 NRL season will begin on Thursday, March 2 – with Head of Elite Competitions Graham Annesley all but confirming an earlier start to the new season earlier this week.

The NRL is currently working on next year’s schedule, which incorporates more byes due to the inclusion of the Dolphins and must work around the ridiculous decision to dump the hugely popular rep round.

The earlier start to the season, combined with the World Cup, is likely to kill off any talk of the World Club Challenge returning.

Shield on show

The J.J. Giltinan Shield is on display in the foyer of Panthers Leagues Club after it was presented to the Panthers at BlueBet Stadium last Friday night.

The Panthers were presented with the J.J. Giltinan Shield last Friday. Photo: Megan Dunn.

More Masked

Some huge news for followers of this column – Panther Rumblings with yours truly will continue across the off-season. With a World Cup to come this year, plus a busy pre-season, the powers that be have asked the masked man to do overtime this year.

My column will appear in the sports section of the Weekender every Friday from October 14, all the way through to the first round of the 2023 NRL season. It’ll move into the sports section earlier if the Panthers don’t end up making the Grand Final.

It’ll be online every Thursday at 7am as always.

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