Lang on League: Three D’s that will guide Penrith to success

There’s no doubt that last Friday the Panthers looked like a much-improved outfit from the previous week against Melbourne. You could see the machine, slowly clicking back into gear even though the motor was still spluttering a little.

After watching the game multiple times, I believe there are three things which need to be fine-tuned and running perfectly if Penrith are to achieve the level of success they’ve enjoyed over the last four years and really have a chance at an astonishing four-peat.

I call it the ‘Three D’s’. Defence, discipline and desire.

Let’s break it down, one word at a time.

We’ll start with ‘defence’. You don’t have to be a genius to know that the team with the best defence usually wins the premiership. Defence wins games, we all know that. Penrith’s defence over the last four years has been virtually impenetrable, however it did look a little brittle against the Storm and Eels at times.

The Panthers must improve their defence. Photo: Megan Dunn.

The side let in three pretty soft tries in the first half against Parramatta and more concerning was where, right up the middle where the big boys play and it sent shockwaves through commentators and Panthers supporters alike.

The good news is the boys steadied the ship in the second half and kept the Eels scoreless. Letting in three tries is not the end of the world but Penrith will want to stop the rot before it sets in. The boys in the middle pride themselves on being a wall but they need to get that steel back into their defence. Letting in those three tries could be the best thing that happened to them.

Now let’s move onto ‘Discipline’. While I found myself regularly blaming the officials for not picking up on an Eels forward pass here or a missed ‘ruck infringement’ there, upon re-watching the game and if I’m going to be completely honest, the Panthers did lack a bit of discipline in their play at times during the match. In this game Jarome Luai did sail close to wind on a couple of occasions and was quite frankly, lucky not to serve any time on the sidelines.

Again, those little one-percenters when it comes to getting back onside and no hands in the ruck etc will disappear from their game as the weeks roll on and the side finds its rhythm.

Nathan Cleary in action against the Eels. Photo: Megan Dunn.

The final ‘D’ is ‘desire’. You can’t win a game of ping-pong let alone a game of rugby league if you don’t have that. I’m happy to say that in my humble opinion, this is not an area the team needs to worry about.

You could be mistaken for thinking that after four consecutive Grand Finals and three Premierships in a row, the side may be finding it hard to motivate themselves and retain that same hunger, that same desire to win.

Not this mob. They ooze intensity and hunger, it’s in the way they walk, talk and play the game.

There’s a quote in sports that I believe sums up the Panthers attitude and culture perfectly.

“Winning isn’t everything but the desire to win is.”

And these blokes have got that in spades.