Lang on League: Why I want a DWZ homecoming

Share this story

It’s time to bring former Panther Dallin Watene-Zelezniak home.

This is something I never thought I’d suggest in a million years but the loss of Sunia Turuva and the shadow that hangs over the future of Taylan May has caused me to re-think matters.

It’s true Dallin is 28 years-old but he is playing outstanding football and has already scored 56 tries since joining the Warriors in 2021. His kamikaze running style would suit the way Penrith play their back three as he makes plenty of metres every time he carries the ball.

He’s also turned into somewhat of a try scoring wizard and his acrobatic displays have made him a human highlights reel. Most importantly he brings toughness and experience to a Panthers backline which will be much needed in 2025.

There are some promising juniors coming through the system, two players in particular, brothers Casey and Jesse McLean who can play wing and centre and certainly that is one way to go.

Dallin Watene-Zelezniak. Photo: NRL Photos.

Another alternative is Paul Alamoti and I’m certainly not discounting him either but Dallin would be a perfect fit and definitely worth considering.

Now I know he has a contract with the Warriors next season but I’m sure if Penrith were to offer him a good three-year deal the Warriors could be convinced to release him.

Especially after the goodwill the Panthers showed when they agreed to let Fish join them in 2025 – no strings attached.

Of course, at the end of the day DWZ would have to want to come back home to Penrith, so there’s no doubt my suggestion is a little out of leftfield but sometimes you’ve got to think outside the box to get the best result when assembling a team.

There’s also been a lot of emphasis lately on replacing James Fisher-Harris for next year and I give Panthers management credit for throwing their hat in the ring for David Fifita, even though it looks like Penrith dodged a bullet there.

However it doesn’t take a genius to work out that five-eighth is also a potential problem spot moving forward as well. As promising as youngster Jack Cole is and as good as Brad Schnieder has shown, both players are largely unproven in the position.

Penrith could do worse than look at both Kodi Nikorima and Sean O’Sullivan for next season.

Both could play outside Nathan Cleary comfortably and both would bring invaluable skill sets to the five-eighth position.

I know the Panthers have some handy options already at the club but having a three-way battle for such an important position couldn’t hurt either.

Nikorima is currently un-signed for next season while O’Sullivan has one more year to go on his Dolphins contract.

However, we all know that doesn’t mean he couldn’t be released early.

Finally, I’d like to throw a dark horse into the five-eighth mix for this year as well as next.

I am a huge fan of Trent Toelau and it’s a testimony to this player’s hard work and determination to see him named on the extended interchange bench this week.

If he gets a chance in the top grade this year and shines, then the race for the five-eighth position for 2025 will really get interesting.

All food for thought.

Peter Lang

Peter Lang is an experienced sports writer, who has been covering rugby league for several decades. He first wrote Lang on League for the Weekender in the 1990s, and worked for Panthers on its famous Panthers Magazine for several years.

Share this story