Masked Panther: New voice of the Panthers

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Penrith’s new voice

The Panthers have locked in a new ground announcer for the 2023 season, with Zac Bailey wrapping up his time with the club after three seasons behind the microphone. Bailey’s commitments with Channel Nine essentially ruled him out of a fourth season.

No club talks about its ground announcer more than Penrith and in Glen Hawke fans will get a professional approach – he’s one of the most experienced hosts and sports ground announcers in the business.

His appointment most likely won’t appease some sections of the fan base who’ve been calling for veteran ground announcer Scott McRae to return, but they’ll likely warm to him as the season goes on.

New Panthers ground announcer Glen Hawke.

Youngsters join NRL squad

Rising Penrith stars Jack Cole and Jesse McLean have been promoted to the Panthers NRL squad, after re-signing with the club until the end of 2026.

“On behalf of all at Panthers, I’d like to congratulate Jack and Jesse on being promoted to the club’s NRL squad,” Panthers CEO Matt Cameron said.

“Jack and Jesse epitomise what we stand for as a development club and our built from within mantra. The club prides itself on the strong development system, and the continuous production line of rugby league talent ensures Panthers will flourish for years to come.”

Scorcher for World Club Challenge

The NRL has pushed back the start time for Saturday night’s World Club Challenge to 6.50pm, due to forecast scorching temperatures in Penrith. There will also be drink breaks at the 20th and 60th minute marks, and both teams will carry five bench players.

Safe bet

St Helens are close to friendless in the betting for the World Club Challenge on Saturday night. The TAB has Penrith at $1.09 to take care of the English champions, who are at $6.50.


Some of Nathan Cleary’s teammates offering plenty of sledges on Instagram after his Philadelphia Eagles lost the Super Bowl to Kansas City on Monday.

No call from Leniu

Penrith officials are still confident they remain in the race for the signature of Spencer Leniu, despite talk he’s as “good as gone” to the Bulldogs. The forward is off-contract at the end of the NRL season and is weighing up his future. Penrith believe they’re still in play.

Spencer Leniu in action against Souths. Photo: NRL Images.

New podcast launched

LiSTNR continues to strengthen its slate of premium sports podcasts and has this week introduced ‘Footy Talk’, an original podcast that is a daily source for all things rugby league – from every tackle to try and everything in between.

Now live on the LiSTNR app, ‘Footy Talk’ is quickly becoming a hit with fans. With a fresh episode every day, the podcast delivers the latest news, interviews, expert analysis, along with all the rough and tumble from the world of rugby league.

Regularly appearing on the podcast will be journalists Danny Weidler, Emma Lawrence, Michael Chammas, Adam Peacock and Anthony Maroon, along with former players Gorden Tallis, James Graham, Greg Inglis, Aaron Woods and current stars Connor Watson and Wade Graham also taking part.

Rumour quashed

The Panthers have quickly moved to quash a rumour that the club was interested in the services of David Fifita. There is no truth to it at all.


A host of NRL stars, including Jarome Luai (pictured below), watching Penrith’s trial against Parramatta at BlueBet Stadium last Saturday.

Jarome Luai. Photo: NRL Images.

Season preview

The Western Weekender will be presenting a special Panthers season preview edition next week. It’ll be a great read before the season gets underway, and the Extra Time liftout returns on March 3.

In print, my next column will feature in the season preview edition before I’m back in Extra Time the week after. If you’ve got some news or gossip you’d like to share, make sure you email me at [email protected].

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