May free to play in Finals
The NRL is struggling to answer confused clubs who are raising concerns over the penalty handed down to Panthers winger Taylan May after he was found guilty of assault in Queensland last week.
Along with fines and other requirements, May was suspended for two matches but will be able to serve his time next season, meaning he’s free to play in the NRL Finals.
I’m told the phones haven’t stopped ringing at NRL HQ after the somewhat unprecedented move.
Truth is, the NRL has generally had some sympathy for May over the issue, believing the CCTV now widely shown only tells part of the story. Still, it’s left a bitter taste in the mouths of Penrith’s NRL rivals.
Not even Panthers know the logic that goes into the NRL’s ticketing process around the Finals. Fans were left bewildered by the decision to hold back Western Grandstand tickets from the initial stages of the members’ pre-sale, despite this area being dominated by season ticket holders. They were slowly fed into the system as Monday progressed.
More laughable was the ‘secret’ code that the NRL issued to members – about as simple to crack and share as the word of the day on ‘Sesame Street’. Panthers officials were left just as puzzled and had no control over the ticketing process.
Charity’s ticketing coup
Talking of tickets to the Final, the final two seats in the stadium are expected to fetch a solid amount at the WestCare charity dinner in Penrith on Thursday night. The Chairman’s Lounge tickets are being put up as a live auction item.
Panthers media manager Michael Blok catching up with Cowboys forward Luciano Leilua on the field post-game after last Saturday’s match in Townsville. The pair know each other from their time at the Tigers.
News Corp journalist Brent Read labelling BlueBet Stadium “archaic” in his article on home Finals, weeks after telling fellow journalists at a media opportunity in Penrith that there was nothing wrong with the venue and there was no need for a new stadium.
Peachey’s return to Penrith
It’s now being widely reported that Tyrone Peachey (pictured) could return to the foot of the Mountains next year, in a swap deal of sorts involving Charlie Staines and the Wests Tigers.
Peachey is 31 and still has plenty to offer but hasn’t set the world on fire at the Tigers. He played his best footy at the Panthers during his stint between 2014 and 2018.
I’m told it’s more than just paper talk and could certainly be pulled off in the off-season.
A sticking point could be how much Penrith have to pay of Staines’ contract.
Stadium uncertainty rolls on
Stuart Ayres may no longer be in Cabinet but he continues to push for the new Penrith Stadium to be built on the site of the Showground and is being a loud voice in the ear of anyone who will listen.
The Penrith MP is adamant it’s where the new stadium needs to be to ensure the best possible outcome, and is keeping a keen eye on the situation.
A new Instagram account is detailing the history of Panthers jerseys through the years. It’s a fascinating look back through the history of the club. Check it out at @everypanthersjersey.
Congratulations to Hans Bor and Leigh Hartog who finished equal first in the Western Weekender Extra Time Celebrity Tipping competition. Both are off to the NRL Grand Final next month.
Drew set for Panthers return
Former Panthers hooker Brad Drew could be returning to the club next season. He’s the frontrunner to coach the NSW Cup side next year, with Peter Wallace moving into an NRL assistant role.
Hadley heads west
2GB is pulling out the big guns for the Finals, with Ray Hadley to call the Panthers v Eels Finals match on Friday.
Yeo on duty
The Panthers sent Isaah Yeo to the official NRL Finals launch on Monday (pictured below), meaning Nathan Cleary could stay out of the spotlight early in the week he’s returning to the field from suspension.
Cleary was put up for interview at Penrith’s media session on Wednesday and not surprisingly was an extremely popular choice from attending journalists.