Masked Panther: Fletcher demands pay day from NRL

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Show us the money

The Panthers are demanding an NRL pay day before they officially commit to the already announced World Club Challenge against St Helens.

Panthers CEO Brian Fletcher wants $100,000 for participation in the World Club Challenge given the match is NRL-controlled and has likely cost the club revenue due to the traditional Battle of the West trial being pushed to the week prior, featuring almost no NRL stars.

The club also believes it is owed $200,000 for winning the NRL Premiership this year, after it was awarded prize money the equivalent to the cut-down COVID years.

The relationship between head office and Panthers is not as bad as it seems – much of this is theatre – but Fletcher certainly expects the $300,000 in Penrith’s bank account – that isn’t in question.

Panthers Group CEO Brian Fletcher. Photo: Melinda Jane.

Sad twist to World Cup success

Penrith forward Liam Martin carried plenty of emotion through his World Cup campaign. Martin’s uncle Ian passed away from Motor Neurone Disease while he was in the UK.

Ian, a well known Aussie Rules player in the Riverina, was just 60-years-old and his death has shattered the tight-knit Martin family. Liam’s mother Maxine made her way to England to support her son in the World Cup Final, just days after farewelling her brother.

NRL drops the ball

The success of Samoa at the Rugby League World Cup only further proves the NRL’s decision to axe the mid-year representative round was wrong.

It caved to Channel Nine’s desire to have all three State of Origins on Wednesday nights, and with the Dolphins also in the mix from next season, the call was made to axe a round that has helped to grow the international game in recent years.

The NRL says it’s looking at a dedicated international window after the NRL season, but it won’t have the same punch. There’s no doubt that players involved with teams like Samoa and Tonga want to play more Tests.

Early favourites

Penrith are the second shortest priced favourites out of all teams for the opening round of the 2023 NRL season. The TAB has the Panthers at $1.30 to win their Round 1 clash against Brisbane, with the Broncos at $3.50. The shortest team of the weekend is the Roosters, who are $1.15 against newcomers the Dolphins ($5.50).

Incredible tribute

One of the great pieces of Penrith merchandise that is out there is a split 1991 and 2003 jumper, recognising the club’s first two Premierships. Now, a similar piece has been put together honouring the 2021 and 2022 titles. It’s available now on the Official Memorabilia website, but it doesn’t come cheap – with a price tag of $2,995.

The new merchandise.

Falls trains, but no deal

Kurt Falls is yet to re-sign with Penrith, but he’ll be training with the club in the pre-season. His future will be determined before the 2023 season gets underway in March.

Salmon set to sign

Jaeman Salmon is yet to sign a deal to remain at Penrith for the 2023 season but I’m told a departure is unlikely.

Salmon had a huge year, winning a Premiership with the Panthers and dealing with the fallout from Ricky Stuart’s public comments about him.

He had some impressive moments on the field, and Penrith is likely to retain him.

Jaeman Salmon in action. Photo: NRL Images.

Spill the tea

Have you heard a rumour, or spotted a Panthers player out and about? I don’t keep secrets but I do protect my sources. Email [email protected].

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