Masked Panther: Likely pre-season schedule revealed

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Pre-season double for Panthers fans

I can reveal the NRL is close to finalising the pre-season schedule for next season with plans for Penrith to play two matches at BlueBet Stadium.

If all goes to plan, the traditional Battle of the West trial between Penrith and Parramatta would be played on Saturday, February 11, while the World Club Challenge between Penrith and St Helens would be held on Saturday, February 18.

The NRL is hoping to lock in the schedule in the coming days. Both games would be live on Fox Sports.

20 years on

The Panthers have recruited 2003 legends Tony Puletua and Joe Galuvao to help launch a 20-year commemorative jersey that recognises Penrith’s Premiership success from two decades ago.

The official alternate jersey for the 2023 season is the club’s showpiece item honouring the legends of yesteryear and featuring the iconic colours worn on that fateful Sunday on October 5, 2003. The jersey is available from the Panthers Shop now.

Tony Puletua and Joe Galuvao wearing the new jerseys.

Accolades keep coming

Penrith’s incredible Premiership defence has been recognised by Sport NSW, with the Panthers named a nominee in the Team of the Year category.

The 2022 NSW Sports Awards are NSW’s highest sports honours and the category winners will be revealed at the prestigious NSW Champions of Sport Ceremony at the International Convention and Exhibition Centre in Darling Harbour on Monday, November 28.

Other finalists in the Team of the Year category are the Sydney Kings, Wests Tigers Women’s Team, North Cronulla Open Beach Relay Team, NSW Sky Blues Women’s Origin Team and the Australian Junior Men’s Coxed Four.

Marto locked in

Liam Martin may be deep in preparation for the World Cup Quarter Finals with Australia but it hasn’t stopped his management sorting out his future back home.

The club is likely to announce the Martin extension in the coming days with the most intriguing factor being the rumoured length – just one extra year, taking him to the end of the 2024 season.

Panthers forward Liam Martin. Photo: Melinda Jane.

Coaching structure confirmed

Peter Wallace and Ben Gardiner have been confirmed as Ivan Cleary’s assistant coaches at Penrith next season.

Since retiring in 2018, Wallace has remained an integral part of the club as a member of the coaching staff, and has made an impactful contribution both on and off the field. Gardiner joins the club with a wealth of experience, having worked in a number of key coaching positions, including assistant coach for the New Zealand Kiwis.

The coaching shake-up comes following the departures of Cameron Ciraldo and Andrew Webster.

Lower grade coaches confirmed

Ben Harden will coach Penrith’s NSW Cup team next year, while Jono Rolfe will continue to look after the Jersey Flegg side.

Home ground advantage

The future of Penrith Stadium remains up in the air but the NRL is at least thankful the Panthers will be playing there next season.

Head office is currently trying to finalise the draw for next year, which is being complicated by availability around the FIFA Women’s World Cup. A host of NRL sides will be forced away from home during the tournament.

Penrith will be trouble-free and continue to play games at home through the disruption.

No keepsake

Following up on a previous piece I wrote soon after the Grand Final, it now appears there will not be a 2022 Premiers DVD or Blu-Ray, which is a huge disappointment for fans hoping to own a permanent copy of the game. Word is a licencing deal isn’t in place for this year’s match, meaning there will be no release this year.


Panthers winger Brian To’o happily posing with fans at Mount Druitt Westfield, just before heading off to the World Cup to represent Samoa.


2003 Clive Churchill Medal winner Luke Priddis at the Nepean Business Network’s Melbourne Cup breakfast at The Log Cabin on Tuesday.

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