Lang on League: Penrith’s quarter season report card

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Unbelievably the 2024 season is a complete mirror of how the Panthers started 2023. Like last year Penrith find themselves with three wins, two losses and a bye six games into the season. The exact same record as 2023.

It would be wonderful if the rest of the season would follow last year’s script.

So, without further ado, let’s get stuck into the quarter-season report card.


The attack so far has been a real mixed bag with the side not scoring a point in Round 1 before rebounding for the next three games with scores of 26, 34, 22 and 18. To be fair the last two weeks have been without Nathan Cleary, so the attack has looked a little disjointed at times during games. Last year the side scored 141 points from five games, this year it’s 100. 2024 GRADE: B | 2023 Grade: A-

Panthers fullback Dylan Edwards. Photo: NRL Photos.


The cornerstone of Penrith’s last three premierships has been their defence, it’s always the best in the competition. So far this year it’s taken a bit of a beating conceding 86 points compared to 64 in 2023. Some of the tries let in have been soft, especially against the Eels and Sea Eagles. It’s an area that needs to be addressed and corrected – now! 2024 GRADE: B | 2023 Grade: A+

The Panthers muscle up in defence. Photo: NRL Photos.

Player performances

Dylan Edwards has been Penrith’s best this season. Against Manly he was the only player worth mentioning. Harsh but fair. Nathan Cleary had his best game against the Broncos while Isaah Yeo and Izack Tago have also performed well. Brian To’o always gives it his all while Lindsay Smith has been solid. 2024 GRADE: C+ | 2023 Grade: B+

Nathan Cleary. Photo: Megan Dunn.

Who needs to lift

There’s a few players who haven’t performed up to their usual high standards and desperately need to lift their form if the side is to make the top four again. Liam Martin hasn’t had the impact you’d expect while Jarome Luai is yet to fire partially due to a serious shoulder injury which hampered his off-season. Also having inconsistent seasons are Taylan May and Moses Leota, who are brilliant one week and down the next.

Liam Martin. Photo: NRL Images.

Players to watch

Sunia Turuva has shown that he’s ready to take the next step after being named NRL Rookie of the Year in 2023. I’m also looking forward to seeing Liam Henry step up and fill Spencer Leniu’s position. He’s already shown he’ll be a force off the bench.

Sunia Turuva. Photo: Melinda Jane.


Ivan Cleary is a three-time premiership winning coach so it’s hard to be too critical especially this early in the season and with new combinations still to integrate into the side. However I thought the team’s execution of whatever game plan he had against the Sea Eagles was awful.

“It was a poor performance,” he said after the game.

“I don’t have all the answers tonight”.

Cleary only spoke for one minute and 44 seconds during the whole post-match press conference but he didn’t need to say anything else.
Sometimes less is more.

2024 OVERALL GRADE: C+ |  2023 Overall Grade: B+

Panthers coach Ivan Cleary. Photo: Melinda Jane.

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