Masked Panther: Premiership-winning coach back in town

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Legendary coach in town

John Lang, who guided Penrith to the 2003 title, lives interstate these days but wouldn’t miss the opportunity to catch up with his 2003 side back at his old stomping ground.

Lang is a confirmed starter for the 2003 reunion celebrations at BlueBet Stadium on Friday night.

Now 72, Lang hasn’t spent much time in Penrith since he was axed by the club at the end of the 2006 season.

Former Penrith coach John Lang. Photo: NRL Images.

Panthers toppled as faves

The TAB has seen enough – the bookmaker removing Penrith as Premiership favourites for the first time since the market was formed after last year’s Grand Final.

Souths are now favourites to take out the competition, sitting at $4.25. The Panthers remain next best in betting at $4.50 followed by the Roosters ($6.50) and Brisbane ($7.00).

But not all bookies agree with the TAB – in fact, Sportsbet has Penrith as Premiership favourites at even shorter odds ($4.20) than the TAB has the Bunnies, with Souths second favourites ($4.50).

The bottom line: competitions aren’t won in May, so it’s pretty much all guess work at this time of the year.

Eddy’s feeling Blue

There is growing calls for Dylan Edwards to be included somewhere for New South Wales in the upcoming State of Origin series, which begins in Adelaide at the end of the month.

There is no question that if the team was picked solely on form, Edwards would have to be in the conversation: he’s probably the fittest player in the game at the moment, which is a big factor in Origin football. But Edwards obviously isn’t going to displace James Tedesco at fullback and an untested move to the wing appears unlikely.

However, there’s certainly talk that Edwards won’t be completely ignored – his form will be recognised by inclusion somewhere in the wider squad, even potentially as a shadow player. He’ll experience the camp and the feel of rep footy if this is the case. Time will tell.

Dylan Edwards bags a try last weekend. Photo: NRL Images.

Buzz out for the count

Bad news for our old mate Phil ‘Buzz’ Rothfield, who missed out on Magic Round due to a bout of COVID. Hopefully Buzz recovers quickly.

Contract talk

The Panthers are well down the road in trying to form a deal for Dylan Edwards that will make him a Panther for life. The 27-year-old has no desire to leave Penrith but knows this upcoming contract will be the biggest of his career. I’d be fairly confident the Panthers will make a deal happen before he potentially goes to the open market.

Directors help out

Members of Penrith’s Board have given up their spots in the Director’s Box at BlueBet Stadium on Friday night for members of the club’s 2003 Premiership-winning side. It’ll be a big day for the 2003 boys – they’ll kick off celebrations with an event at Drink West and Brisket Boys on Friday afternoon before making their way to BlueBet.

Magic weekend

The NRL’s Magic Round was a huge success and is quickly becoming the best weekend on the rugby league calendar. It’s also a very lucrative one. I’m told merchandise sales went absolutely through the roof over the course of the weekend. There was a constant stream of footy fans with their wallets open at the merchandise stalls.

The merchandise stands at Magic Round. Photo: NRL Images.

Vegas, baby!

The Panthers want to be considered for a spot on the plane to Las Vegas if the NRL pulls off an American launch for the new season next year.

CEO Brian Fletcher has made it clear that Penrith should be considered alongside the glamour clubs already talked about, particularly given they’ve been the most successful club of the last few seasons.

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