Lang on League: Fourth title might just be hardest of them all

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As a new season begins with the Penrith Panthers chasing a fifth straight Grand Final appearance and a fourth straight premiership, I’ve been asked many times, do I think they can do it again in 2024?

I’ll answer that later.

“We were told that we couldn’t even win one (premiership),” Panthers coach Ivan Cleary told SEN 1170 Breakfast recently.

“We were then told we couldn’t win two in a row or even three in a row.

“We have the talent to (win a fourth), we certainly have the experience and we have created that belief with the way we play.”

More wise words were said by Ivan prior to the Preliminary Final last year in the Sydney Morning Herald.

“The only way we can fail is by not facing our fears and taking them head on,” he said, “Face (your fears) head on – you can’t fail if you do that.”

That’s the mindset of a winner folks. Penrith go into every game believing they can win the contest.

Whether they do or not is another story, but that belief is indoctrinated into every player’s mindset until it becomes part of their DNA.

For example, co-captain Nathan Cleary believed, even when the team was down 24-8 in last year’s Grand Final, that if they stuck to their systems, their core beliefs and values, they would win.

And win they did.

Panthers coach Ivan Cleary. Photo: Melinda Jane.

While the Panthers will be minus three of their Grand Final stars from last season in Stephen Crichton, Spencer Leniu and Jack Cogger, the belief that they can win a fourth consecutive title without them, is still the main focus of the team.

Another strong motivating factor is that their five-eighth and long-time teammate Jarome Luai, is in his final season with the club.

“‘Romey’ has already begun labelling 2024 as the “The Last Ride” and he’s determined to leave the club as a four-time premiership winner.

It’s safe to assume that if Penrith are to defy history and win a fourth title, Luai will be a key component.

So many other things also need to go right, you need to minimise injuries, get a fair rub of the green with refereeing decisions (cough cough), the list goes on.

Ok enough babbling. I know the coaching staff and players think they can win a fourth straight title and… I do too. I think they do it.

There’s no doubt that Penrith’s dominance will end one day.

I mean nothing lasts forever.

Especially with the team losing star players after every successful season. I think we all know this premiership winning run will end one day.

One day maybe, but not today!

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