Masked Panther: Why Sorensen could be heading for Panthers exit

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Sorensen’s uncertain future

The good form of Penrith second-rower Scott Sorensen certainly hasn’t gone unnoticed by other NRL clubs, with whispers that he could be bound for Newcastle next year.

Off-contract at the end of the season, the 30-year-old admitted to the Weekender earlier this year that he wanted to stay with the Panthers but would consider all options, including a stint in the Super League.

Sorensen has been a solid player but has never been one of the top paid players at any club during this career, which only really took off at Cronulla in his mid-20s. He’ll rightly chase whatever deal is best for him financially.

Scott Sorensen. Photo: Melinda Jane.

Luai back in Origin frame

I reported months ago that Jarome Luai had all but lost his NSW five-eighth jumper, but there’s now a strong chance he’ll retain his spot at least for the opener in Adelaide.

Luai did himself no harm with a standout performance against the Roosters last weekend, while his obvious replacement Nicho Hynes has been far from great over the last fortnight.

The NRL schedule that sees Penrith play on Thursday this weekend will also help Luai. The NSW team will be named at the end of the round.

2003 heroes drink up

A big crowd of fans turned out at Drink West last Friday afternoon to join in the 2003 Grand Final reunion celebrations. Coach John Lang was among the most popular attendees, especially given he’s rarely in Penrith these days.

Former Panther Lou Zivanovic was the driving force behind the unofficial reunion, ahead of the major event later that night.

Former coach John Lang signs an autograph at the reunion. Photo: Megan Dunn.

20 year reunion a hit

The 2003 Premiers still have a strong connection with the current generation of fans. Many were kids when Craig Gower lifted the trophy at Telstra Stadium and now bring their own kids to the footy.

It’s why the 2003 reunion last weekend was so popular. Panthers did a tremendous job in the organisation – especially when it came to the way the team was introduced.

Players were also invited back into the sheds for the team song after the 48-4 thumping of the Roosters.

Luke Priddis was clearly best on ground.

Whether it was at the ground, in the corporate areas or back at the club afterwards, the 2003 players were more than happy to mingle with fans – there wasn’t an ego amongst them.

Kent stood down

Panthers critic and ‘NRL 360’ host Paul Kent has been stood down from his role on the show and with The Daily Telegraph. Kent was arrested and charged over an alleged assault at his home late last week.

Interestingly, News Corp and Fox Sports are yet to report on the arrest – instead saying Kent has been stood down while he deals with “personal issues”.

He faced court on Wednesday and is pleading not guilty. He won’t be back in court again until much later this year.

Spotted

2003 captain Craig Gower embracing current Panthers skipper and fellow Premiership winner Nathan Cleary after the Roosters game.

Craig Gower and Nathan Cleary. Photo: NRL Images.

Leniu’s tough break

Spencer Leniu is recovering from surgery after suffering one of rugby league’s more painful injuries – a ruptured testicle.

The injury happened at a training session 48 hours before the Roosters game, forcing a re-think on the game plan – with Liam Martin playing a different role on his return. Leniu is still some weeks off a return – a blow to Penrith’s forward stocks and to Leniu, who had been mentioned in some circles about an Origin bench spot.

Spencer Leniu. Photo: NRL Images.

Griffin hooked

You would have to think the coaching career of former Panthers mentor Anthony Griffin is now over, after he was sacked by the Dragons on Tuesday.

There’s plenty of “I told you so” lines going around this week; with some people who were associated with the Panthers during the Griffin era warning the club it was the wrong choice when they first signed him.

Stadium D-day

The NSW Government will hand down the State Budget on September 19. That sounds pretty boring to most league followers but it could have an impact on the now-stalled Penrith Stadium project.

The wording of the Budget date announcement by Labor over the weekend suggests tough cuts ahead as the government tries to fix what it calls “significant pressures and risks”. You would have to think the stadium project could be shelved entirely. The Budget could end up being the final nail in the coffin for the stadium overhaul.

To’o becomes three

Congratulations to Panthers winger Brian To’o and his wife Moesha who are expecting their first child. To’o made the announcement on his Instagram last week, with the pair holding a baby Panthers jersey and To’o clutching an ultrasound.

 

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Spotted a Panther out and about? Have some news to share? I want to hear about it. I don’t keep secrets but I do protect my sources. Email [email protected].

Masked Panther

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