Masked Panther: Guest of honour’s Sunday footy treat

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Smiles all round as Nicholas cheers on Panthers

The most inspirational member of the 21,525 people in the house at BlueBet Stadium last Sunday was 10-year-old Nicholas Tadros.

Nicholas lost his right leg and faced an enormous recovery after being critically injured in the Sea World helicopter tragedy in January. His mother Vanessa was killed in the accident.

With father Simon by his side, Nicholas was a special guest for the Panthers v Bulldogs game last Sunday.

He watched the game from the Director’s Box and had the opportunity to be on the field before kick-off. It was a wonderful gesture from the Panthers and so inspiring to see Nicholas back enjoying life.

Nicholas Tadros on the field last Sunday. Photo: Megan Dunn.

Panthers monitoring Luai situation

There was nothing in the weekend revelation about Jarome Luai’s split with his management, and what it means for his next contract, that the Panthers didn’t already know.

They’ve been monitoring this situation for some time.

There’s no question Penrith would be keen to get a deal done with Luai prior to November 1. They know entering the open market would see Luai attract offers well beyond what the Panthers could pay. The trade-off may be a longer team deal.

Luai wants to stay at Penrith, but there will be plenty around him telling him to at least see what’s out there post-November.

Jarome Luai. Photo: NRL Images.

Celebrating 150

It was an emotional time for Nathan Cleary last weekend as he celebrated his 150th NRL game. His mother Bec presented his jersey to him, and he had a huge family contingent in the stands watching the game (including his beloved nan).

The family joined him on the field post-game (pictured below) as the reality of the occasion hit, with Cleary sharing a special embrace with his father and coach, Ivan.

Nathan Cleary with his family post-game on Sunday. Photo: Megan Dunn.

Laurie returns

The Panthers last week formalised a deal with Daine Laurie, which will see the 24-year-old return to the club from the Wests Tigers next season.

With Penrith expecting to lose Jack Cogger at the end of the year, Laurie will provide perfect back-up to Nathan Cleary and Jarome Luai next season.

Panthers Rugby League CEO Matt Cameron said he was pleased to see Laurie sign on with the club.

“I look forward to welcoming Daine back to Panthers for the 2024 season,” Cameron said.

“It’s always rewarding to see a former Panther return home to the club, and we believe Daine can flourish in the Panthers environment.”

Sorensen’s support

Forward Scott Sorensen met up with long-time Panthers fan Greg Eccleston last week.

Eccleston purchased Sorensen’s Indigenous Round jersey via an auction, and he plans to wear it this November as he tackles the famous Kokoda Track. He’s raising money for the Black Dog Institute, which supports crucial mental health research and help.

Sorensen was more than happy to throw his support behind Eccleston’s efforts, with Panthers legend Royce Simmons facilitating the meet-up.

You can donate here.

Greg Eccleston with Scott Sorensen.

Marto’s new deal

The Panthers are expected to announce they’ve re-signed Liam Martin on a three-year extension at some stage in the next few days. The deal will ensure Martin remains at the club until the end of the 2027 season.

Backing Royce

You may have noticed the Pantherettes were sporting blue pom poms at BlueBet Stadium last Sunday. It was all in support of the Royce Simmons Foundation, as the Panthers continue to assist in the club legend’s fundraising efforts.

Simmons himself was up in the Chairman’s Lounge with sponsor Bluestone Home Loans, which has also thrown its support behind the Foundation, which raises funds for dementia research. You could have heard a pin drop in the Chairman’s Lounge when Simmons was sharing his story and an update on his health battle.

The Pantherettes sported blue pom poms last Sunday. Photo: Megan Dunn.

Scoop confirmed

As I revealed a few weeks ago, the NRL Grand Final is staying in Sydney. The State Government confirmed this week that the 2023 decider would be played at Accor Stadium.

“Sydney is the nation’s birthplace of rugby league and the heart of its passionate fans, so it is fantastic the NRL and NRLW Grand Finals are remaining in their homeplace once again,” said Sports Minister Steve Kamper.


Nathan Cleary soaking up the atmosphere from the sideline at Accor Stadium last Thursday night ahead of the Matildas’ opening game of the Women’s World Cup. Jarome Luai and Stephen Crichton also cheered Australia on to a 1-0 win over the Republic of Ireland.

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