Masked Panther: Pentecost leads call for place in history

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Call to recognise wheelchair players

Local wheelchair rugby league player Nathan Pentecost is calling on the Penrith Panthers to bestow him and his teammates a player number, just like the 615 NRL players have received for debuting with the club.

While Pentecost doesn’t want to be added to the current list of first grade NRL players, he wants to be recognised on a brand-new list for first grade wheelchair rugby league players.

Pentecost and Penrith won the 2016 Wheelchair Rugby League title, a huge honour for not only him but the club in general. Pentecost already has an Australian Wheelaroos number as well as a NSW number at the Blues Centre of Excellence in Homebush, but unfortunately he doesn’t have a number at the club he represented for many years.

“I have my Australian number, my NSW number, but I kind of need a club number,” he said.

Nathan Pentecost. Photo: Melinda Jane.

“But not just me, I want all my teammates to have a number as well. I floated the idea at Panthers years ago, but they weren’t interested at the time. I’ve pretty much done everything in the game – vice-captained Australia, captained the City team, won Premierships – it’s my missing piece of the puzzle.”

If Penrith do decide to jump on board, they will be the first NRL club to acknowledge their wheelchair players with a number.

“You just need someone to step up and hopefully other clubs will follow,” Pentecost said.

“It would mean everything to me. You always want to be treated and recognised as an equal.”

Kenty’s fuse blows

‘NRL 360’ co-host Paul Kent was almost alone in his defence of Canberra coach Ricky Stuart when he made his abhorrent comments towards Jaeman Salmon last year.

Now he’s doubled down by criticising Ivan Cleary for some very tame comments following the return bout at GIO Stadium last weekend, and unloading on the wider club as a whole.

Kent is entitled to his view, but it’s a surprise someone at Fox Sports hasn’t had a word in his ear – his well-known friendship with Stuart, and his constant criticism of Penrith is significantly harming the credibility of the show, and the network.

I know hundreds of Penrith fans who now refuse to watch ‘NRL 360’.

Keeping their distance

I’m hearing a number of News Corp journalists were in touch with Penrith this week to distance themselves from Paul Kent’s comments. They know the club is fuming over the constant attacks and don’t want it to impact their chance of getting leads or talking to players.

Day Doug blessed the Panthers

The passing of radio great Doug Mulray last week sparked memories of an iconic photo taken in the lead-up to the 1991 Grand Final. Greg Alexander, Brad Fittler and Ben Alexander all attended Triple M’s Bondi studios in the lead-up to the decider, as Grand Final week unfolded.

Mulray “blessed” the trio ahead of the big game against Canberra and the photo ended up on the front page of The Daily Telegraph. It was a period in time when Triple M dominated the FM airwaves and resonated strongly in western Sydney and they really got behind Penrith’s 1991 Premiership push.

The famous ‘blessing’ photo from 1991.

Forward blow

The Panthers will be without James Fisher-Harris for up to a month after he suffered a knee injury against the Raiders last weekend. We spotted him at the Panthers Academy on Tuesday in a brace. He’s in good spirits and won’t be out for too long.

Slice of magic

The NRL officially launched Magic Round in Brisbane this week. Former Panthers Luke Lewis and Trent Merrin were in attendance at the launch along with a host of other players from the past.

Magic Round will be held over the weekend of May 5-7, with the Panthers to play the Warriors in the Saturday 3pm game at Suncorp Stadium.

The Magic Round launch on Tuesday. Photo: NRL Images.

Panthers chase Wilton

The rumours that Penrith are interested in signing impressive Cronulla second-rower Teig Wilton won’t go away. The 23-year-old is off-contract at the end of the season and would obviously form a formidable second-row partnership with Liam Martin if he did come to the club. There’s no doubt the Sharks would like to keep him but he’s likely to command big dollars.

Just married

Congratulations to former Pantherette Nat Sinclair, who married her partner James last weekend.

Nat Sinclair is married.

Spill the tea

Got some news? Spotted a Panther out and about? Have you heard a rumour you think I should check out? Send an email to [email protected]. I don’t keep secrets but I do protect sources.

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