Masked Panther: May could walk – and is there more to it?

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The family club

Nobody can deny that part of Penrith’s success these past four years has been how a family culture has been built at the foot of the Mountains.

Coach Ivan Cleary and his staff have gone overboard to ensure families feel part of the club, identifying some time ago that with so many players having kids, the Panthers needed to embrace family rather than have players with a split focus.

Plenty of clubs will tell you they embrace family spirit but nobody does it quite like Penrith.

Brian To’o and Jarome Luai with their kids. Photo: Megan Dunn.

May’s days numbered?

There’s plenty of rumours doing the rounds that Taylan May could leave the club at the end of the season, contradicting other reports that a new deal was close.

And just quietly, there’s the odd official at Penrith who wouldn’t be overly concerned if he did end up walking. May is unpredictable, and certainly walks to a different beat than most. He’s also a bloody good footballer.

May is represented by Black Money Enterprises, and if he does end up leaving, I reckon there’s a bigger story emerging here about the space being created between Panthers and the agency. Watch this space.

Taylan May in action for Penrith. Photo: NRL Photos.


Taylan May at Brookvale Oval watching brother Terrell go around for the Roosters.

Fish hopeful of quick return

Powerhouse forward James Fisher-Harris breathed a sigh of relief this week when scans revealed the shoulder injury he suffered against the Eels last Friday night was not as bad as first thought.

There’s no structural damage and there’s every chance he’ll be back in a couple of weeks.

Spotted: Panthers prop Matt Eisenhuth at the premiere of ‘Kung Fu Panda 4’ with his family last weekend.

James Fisher-Harris watches on from the stands last week. Photo: NRL Photos.

Committee to guide return

The Panthers are putting together a committee of members to hear the thoughts of fans regarding the move out of Penrith Stadium at the end of the year, the time away from the ground and the ultimate return to the new-look venue.

An email went out to members last week seeking expressions of interest. The committee will meet fortnightly.

The talk of the Western Grandstand last weekend was the desire for members to return to similar seating at the new venue. To be honest, there’s more trepidation and concern than there is excitement about the new stadium at present.


The Pantherettes with Panthers mascot Claws enjoying a strong reception from the crowd at BlueBet Stadium last Friday night.

Luai free to play

There was certainly some eyebrows raised when Jarome Luai only copped a Grade 1 Careless High Tackle charge for his hit on Bailey Simonsson last Friday night, especially given the Eels centre was forced out of the game. The low grading, and a similar low grading for a tripping offence, means Luai is free to play this weekend and hasn’t copped a suspension.

Mielekamp back in footy

Former Panthers staffer Shaun Mielekamp, who went on to a hugely successful reign as CEO of the Central Coast Mariners in the A-League, is back in rugby league. He’s taken on a role with the Wests Tigers as General Manager of Community, Foundation and Affairs.

Mini reunion

Proving that team bonds never quite go away, check out this awesome photo of Daine Laurie, Mitch Kenny and Soni Luke with former teammate J’maine Hopgood post-game last Friday night.

Daine Laurie, J’Maine Hopgood, Mitch Kenny and Sonny Luke. Photo: NRL Photos.


ABC head caller Andrew Moore having a quick cigarette outside BlueBet Stadium before heading upstairs to call the Panthers v Eels blockbuster. I wonder if he ran in to former colleague Ray Hadley, who was calling the game for 2GB. The pair don’t get on.

Media crossroads

Josh Mansour’s explosive revelations about his time at Souths on a podcast hosted by James Graham during the week, combined with the furore over Latrell Mitchell’s expletive-laden radio interview last Thursday, play into a situation where the coverage of rugby league finds itself at a crossroads.

More and more players are appearing on podcasts hosted by former players and mates. The players feel this is where they can best express themselves, and even Nathan Cleary said recently he enjoys the podcast space more than the traditional media. It’s a situation the NRL and key media people are monitoring.

The NRL and traditional media outlets have strong working relationships, even if there’s disputes at times. Club media managers do wonders at ironing out the kinks and handling issues.

The podcast space is entirely different and often players appear on them without the knowledge of their clubs or the NRL.

It’s an intriguing issue that will only bubble away more in the future.

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