Masked Panther: Martin set to remain a Panther

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Martin deal close

Something would have to go horribly wrong for Liam Martin not to re-sign with Penrith before the end of the year.

An announcement around a contract extension is looming with Penrith very confident the 25-year-old will ink a new deal to stay at the foot of the Mountains.

Martin has been linked with both Parramatta and St George-Illawarra in recent weeks but I’m told a three-year extension with Penrith is the most likely option.

Officially, Martin can speak with other clubs from November 1 as he’s off-contract at the end of next season, but there’s no question his management would be aware of what the market is offering already.

Liam Martin is set to re-sign with Penrith. Photo: NRL Images.

New Panther cub coming

Back-up half Kurt Falls has announced he and his partner Elise are expecting a new baby in April next year. Little Carter will become a big brother.

Taking on the world

Both Penrith and St Helens are keen for a showdown that would see the return of the World Club Challenge, but scheduling will emerge as the major issue.

The Saints have won four straight Super League titles while the Panthers have won back-to-back NRL trophies, making it a mouth-watering prospect.

Between the World Cup and pre-season obligations in the NRL, and an earlier start to the 2023 season, getting the game up and happening will be very challenging but not out of the question.

The Panthers would be very keen to host the game here in Australia as part of the NRL pre-season.

Stadium doubt remains

Nobody can deny there’s huge clouds hanging over the new Penrith Stadium project.

State Penrith MP Stuart Ayres is pushing the Penrith Paceway site as the ideal location of the new stadium and it remains the frontrunner in terms of the end result. But the recent stadium stoush with the NRL, and the debacle around the Grand Final venue, has the State Government considering other options, including a re-build at the existing venue or a lower-cost upgrade to the current facilities.

Very silent on all of this is Labor, who is yet to say firmly what their policy may be around the Penrith project.

Social conundrum

While reporting of Penrith’s Grand Final celebrations was way over the top and the negativity from some was astounding, there’s no question the club needs to do better when it comes to social media training and education. For the second year in a row a post from a player needed to be deleted after causing a storm. It needs to be addressed.

Pantherette moves on

After a decade with the squad, Panthers cheerleader Emily McGarrity is hanging up her pom-poms. She started her time with the Pantherettes during the lean seasons of 2012 and 2013, and finishes having cheered at the Grand Final against Parramatta earlier this month.

Emily McGarrity.

World Cup arrives

The first of the Rugby League World Cup matches will be played this weekend with England taking on Samoa at 12.30am Sunday morning, Sydney time. Australia’s first game is later that morning, with kick-off at 5.30am. All games are being shown live on Fox League and Kayo. The NRL website has now been updated with all the relevant local times and match details.

Aussies firm faves

Australia is expected to dominate the World Cup despite a talent drain to other nations. Sportsbet has the Kangaroos as $1.53 favourites to win the Cup. Australia also dominates turnover for the tournament.

New Zealand is next at $4.33 with Samoa, boasting a host of NRL stars, on the third line at $10. Tonga is $12 ahead of host nation England, on $13.

“The Kangaroos are entitled to be favourites, but there are a lot of talented NRL players involved for other countries. Tonga beat Australia in 2019 and they have strengthened since then and this is probably the strongest Kiwi outfit we have seen,’’ said Sportsbet’s Sean Ormerod.

No sign of DVD

There’s no word on a DVD or Blu-Ray release of the 2022 NRL Grand Final between Penrith and Parramatta. The 2021 Grand Final DVD was released on October 8 last year, less than a week after the game. But nearly two weeks on from the Panthers’ triumph at Accor Stadium, there’s no word on a 2022 release.

Renewals released

The dust has barely settled on the 2022 NRL season, but it’s time to start thinking about 2023. Panthers has sent out membership renewal details for next season, and not surprisingly there’s been a price increase. Automatic renewals will start being processed next week.

Ciraldo has left the building

The euphoria of Penrith’s Grand Final win was somewhat short-lived for Assistant Coach Cameron Ciraldo. He was back at the Panthers Academy last Wednesday cleaning out his desk, bound for Belmore.

Ciraldo held his first media conference as Canterbury head coach on Wednesday.

Cameron Ciraldo. Photo: NRL Images.
Masked Panther

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