Masked Panther: Lynch left mark on Penrith

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First recruitment masterstroke

It was sad to hear of the passing of the great Ron Lynch this week. A 12-time representative for Australia, Lynch is rightly being remembered as a Parramatta legend but his move to Penrith in 1972 should not be forgotten.

It was one of the club’s first big recruitment moves after the struggles of the early years. He’d already played 194 games for the Eels before he headed further west.

Lynch only played two seasons for Penrith but he was immediately installed as captain in 1972 and won the Player of the Year award. He didn’t miss a single game in his two years at the club.

Ron Lynch playing for Penrith.

He died on Sunday following a long illness, 31 days before his 85th birthday.

“He played 238 games during the 1960s and 1970s, holding his own amongst some of the finest players the game has produced. He was also highly respected and regarded by those who came across him,” said ARL Commission Chairman, Peter V’landys.

“On behalf of the Commission, I extend our deepest sympathies and condolences to Ron’s family, and all those who knew him.”

Mates forever

Brian To’o and Sunia Turuva were all smiles when catching up with former teammate and now Bulldogs captain Stephen Crichton after last Friday’s match. However, before the game – it was all business. The teams ran off after their pre-game warm-up at the same time, and while Crichton was right next to Nathan Cleary, the pair didn’t even look at each other.

Brian To’o, Stephen Crichton and Sunia Turuva. Photo: Megan Dunn.

Last ditch call

Penrith coach Ivan Cleary made one last phone call to David Fifita in the hours before he agreed to join the Sydney Roosters next season. But after Wednesday’s backflip, we can be grateful it didn’t shift his thinking.

The Panthers have been left bewildered by the whole Fifita situation and how elements of it unfolded. But they’d surely now be breathing a sigh of relief, with the Roosters left embarrassed.


Isaah Yeo making sure he led the Panthers off the field at half-time against the Bulldogs last Friday night, even if it meant shoving Dylan Edwards out of the way to do it.

Panthers still favourites

The loss of Nathan Cleary for eight weeks hasn’t frightened the bookies, who still have Penrith as clear Premiership favourites. The Panthers are $3.25 to win the competition, and $1.01 to make the Finals. The Roosters and Brisbane share the next line of betting.

Magic Round Merch

If you’re heading to Brisbane this weekend for Magic Round, you’ll be able to get your hands on some exclusive merchandise. There’s a 2024 Magic Round Ball, and a cap – with $5 of every sale going to charity. Plus there’s Magic Round shirts and jerseys too.

Don’t forget the precinct opens well before kick-off each day. It opens at 4pm Friday, 1pm Saturday and 12pm Sunday – with lots of activations around the stadium.

Magicians grounded

The official Magic Round program rightly highlights some of the stars of the game, but as it turns out, many of them are injured and won’t be playing this weekend.

The program includes a ‘Magicians of Magic Round’ section, which profiles the likes of Ryan Papenhuyzen and Nathan Cleary, who are both out this weekend. Meanwhile, all three days of Magic Round have officially sold out.

Milestone for Dallin

In a touch of irony, Warriors winger Dallin Watene-Zelezniak will bring up his 200th NRL game against the Panthers on Sunday. A Penrith junior, it’s been a decade since Watene-Zelezniak made his debut for the Panthers, going on to play more than 100 first grade games before joining the Bulldogs and the Warriors.

Dallin Watene-Zelezniak in his Penrith days. Photo: Megan Dunn

Cleary’s costly injury

As if his hamstring injury wasn’t enough, Panthers captain Nathan Cleary will also cop a hit to the back pocket as a result of his time off the field. He would have netted about $100,000 through the State of Origin series in extra player payments.

Spill the tea

Got some gossip? Spotted a player? I don’t keep secrets but I do protect my sources. Email your news to [email protected].

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