Masked Panther: Brothers in arms

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Always a Panther

Spencer Leniu has been in the headlines for all the wrong reasons lately but it was touching to see him catch up with a few recent former team mates on the sideline at Allianz Stadium last Thursday night.

The suspended prop chatted with Sunia Turuva, Izack Tago and Brian To’o – proving the bond built at the Panthers over the last few years will never be broken, regardless of the jersey you’re wearing.

Sunia Turuva, Spencer Leniu, Izack Tago and Brian To’o. Photo: NRL Photos.

Cleary’s bar buy

A new sports bar will open on High Street in Penrith later this year – and it has a high profile owner. Two-time Clive Churchill Medal winner Nathan Cleary is part of the ownership group of Freddy’s, which will open at the site of the now closed Duck Duck Goose bar and restaurant.

The bar is named after Panthers 1991 Grand Final winner Brad Fittler. It’s an expansion of Cleary’s off-field business interests, with the Panthers co-captain also a part owner in Drink West, a growing beer brand and brewery. The bar will open in June.

Cleary conflict

The opening of Freddy’s – and Cleary’s involvement in Drink West – has  raised a few eyebrows among some Penrith officials and Directors.

There’s always been an awkwardness around Drink West being in competition with some of Penrith’s major sponsors, while a new sports bar obviously competes with Panthers Leagues Club.

It’d never be raised in any serious way and Cleary is free to do what he likes, but it’s never sat comfortably with some.

Nathan Cleary.

Chase for Turuva

Sunia Turuva has technically been on the open market since last November but with negotiations at the Panthers stalling, his management is now testing the market – as has been widely reported over the last week.

I’m told Turuva couldn’t be more keen to stay at Penrith and it would have to take an extraordinary offer to get him away from the foot of the Mountains. But as we’ve seen in recent years, extraordinary offers to winning Penrith players aren’t out of the question.

The Dragons are frontrunners for his signature should he leave Penrith.

Sunia Turuva. Photo: Melinda Jane.


Legendary Panthers halfback Greg Alexander on his way to Allianz Stadium to watch his nephew Mavrik make his first grade debut last Thursday night.

Brandy wasn’t scheduled to work at Fox Sports so was clear to enjoy the night. We spotted him again after the game happily taking photos with fans.

Schneider steps up

The debut of Mavrik Geyer overshadowed what was a solid performance from Brad Schneider in his club debut last Thursday night.

Presented his game day jersey by Nathan Cleary a couple of days earlier, Schneider followed in the footsteps of other Cleary understudies and got the job done against the Roosters.

It meant coach Ivan Cleary had no doubts to rest his son for this weekend’s clash against Manly and bring him back against the Tigers in Bathurst on April 20.

Brad Schneider. Photo: Melinda Jane.

Vegas is a go

The NRL will announce within the next few weeks the four teams heading to Las Vegas in March next year to kick off the 2025 season. The Panthers are a certainty to be on the trip.

The announcement will be made some 10 or 11 months in advance in an effort to ensure fans can prepare and save for the trip. Travel package details will also be revealed.

World Club Challenge in doubt

With Penrith being Premiership favourites and a certainty for Vegas, another Grand Final win this year would be put the 2025 World Club Challenge in serious limbo.

I’m told there would be no appetite for Penrith to travel both to England and the US; it would simply be too much of a disruptive start to the year.

The only window would be if the UK champions travelled to Australia – most of the Vegas teams fielded full strength sides for their opening trials, so there’s a chance the World Club Challenge could be played on that opening weekend of the pre-season challenge.

Stadium work rolls on

I’m told Infrastructure NSW has used this lengthy break in Penrith’s home draw to do some preliminary work at BlueBet Stadium ahead of the major redevelopment, which will kick off at the end of the year. It’s all very technical stuff apparently, moreso to do with the playing surface than anything else.

Brothers in arms

Taylan and Terrell May were quick to spot each other and share a hug after competing for opposite sides at Allianz Stadium last Thursday night. The brothers still have a desire to play together – along with Tyrone – in the NRL one day.

The May brothers. Photo: NRL Photos.


Don’t forget to listen to the latest edition of the ‘10 Minute Match Day’ podcast on Saturday, with your last chance to win Chairman’s Lounge tickets. All you need to do is send an email to [email protected] with ‘Chairmans’ in the subject line and include the code word mentioned in the podcast. Entries close Saturday, April 6 and the winner will be notified by email.

Remember, you must include the code word from the podcast in your email. To hear the podcast, search Western Weekender wherever you listen to podcasts or visit

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