Over the course of an NRL season which has seen fans on a high from start to finish, few have revelled in the glory like the iconic Pantherettes cheerleaders, with choreographer Kati Manning reflecting on their momentous return to the field ahead of this Sunday’s Grand Final.
“The season has been absolutely fantastic. Obviously the boys have been doing an absolutely phenomenal job on the field, and the girls have been training super, super hard throughout the whole season,” Ms Manning said.
“Game days have been absolutely sensational, the crowds have been phenomenal just with their energy and their passion at every single home game, so it’s just been a very successful and uplifting 2022 season.”
With the 2020 NRL Season cancelled altogether for the Pantherettes, and a tumultuous 2021, Ms Manning said she was glad to see the only obstacle this year, was the weather.
“I am so excessively proud of them,” she said.
“We’ve had plenty of rain games, especially in the latter part of this year – I’ve got lots of footage of the girls just dancing out on that field in the rain. But, they’re such an amazingly committed and talented squad. They just pour their heart and soul into every training session, every game day; nothing is too hard for them, nothing is out of what they want to do.”
Despite this being the third year in a row that the Panthers have made their way to the Grand Final, this year will be the first of these that the squad will be there in person, and they couldn’t be more excited.
“It was so exciting and fun to watch on TV, but not being able to go, not being able to support and not being able to dance was heartbreaking at the same time,” Ms Manning said.
“To fulfil a season, and for the Panthers to make the Grand Final for the third year in a row, and for the girls to be able to dance alongside those sidelines and cheer the boys on at the Grand Final, I’m so thrilled for them. It’s a very exciting time for them, and they’re all super, super pumped.”
This Sunday, the girls will head to Accor Stadium to support the team and the fans on and off the field.
“We’ll be involved in the precinct, so fans will be able to come and meet the girls and get photos with the girls before kick off, and then the girls will make their guard of honour for the Panthers to run out of, and the girls will be performing their sidelines throughout the game when Penrith score,” she said.
Ms Manning is certain that the girls will be cheering on the winning team.
“I do think it’s going to be tough, I think it’s going to be a very rough game. Every time these two teams have versed each other throughout the year, it’s been very tough games every single time, so I do think it’s going to be tight,” she said.
“But, I have full faith that we can bring it home!”
Cassidy Pearce is a news and entertainment journalist with The Western Weekender. A graduate of the University of Technology Sydney, she has previously worked with Good Morning Macarthur and joined the Weekender in 2022.