Masked Panther: May fronts Panthers Board, awaits next move

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Batman brings Justice League

Stood down Penrith centre Taylan May fronted the club’s Board on Tuesday afternoon in an effort to save his future at the club and likely his NRL career as a whole.

The Board has hit May with a breach notice over a range of off-field issues, all unrelated to the domestic violence charges he is currently fighting in court.

May cut a powerful figure on arrival – flanked by his manager and three members of his legal team. A legal quandary now emerges out of the situation, with the Panthers weighing up whether to pull the trigger and terminate May’s contract, with question marks over whether their justification is water tight.

Expect the next move to play out in about a week’s time.

Spotted

A flag featuring Taylan May still flying proudly on Mulgoa Road despite the serious allegations of domestic violence against him. While May is entitled to the presumption of innocence, Penrith City Council would probably be wise to remove the flag for now given the city’s stance on violence against women.

Panthers fan Ben Cummins with Zac Lomax.

Lomax in town

My new text line (0434 986 622) was going off last Sunday when a number of fans spotted Dragons winger Zac Lomax in the stands at BlueBet Stadium.

And it had a little extra spice to it because a few days earlier, there’d been a story about Lomax potentially joining Penrith for the run to the Finals before he switches to the Eels next season.

Long-time fan Ben Cummins even snapped a photo with Lomax (pictured).

But Dragons fans can rest easy. Lomax was there to support a mate in NSW Cup – not to scope out potential new digs.

New podcast launches

The Western Weekender is tomorrow launching a brand new podcast, ‘Tension’s Running High’, available wherever you listen to podcasts or on the Weekender website at https://www.westernweekender.com.au.

The podcast, hosted by Troy Dodds and Nathan Taylor, replaces the ‘10 Minute Match Day’ podcast which has been running on game days throughout the 2024 season.

The new podcast will be longer and offer a more expansive look at what’s happening around the Panthers. It’ll be out every Friday. Search ‘Western Weekender’ wherever you listen to podcasts.

Big Marn’s big tribute

Former Panther and now media superstar Darryl Brohman has paid tribute to former teammate and business leader Lou Zivanovic.

In a fascinating chat on James Graham’s podcast, Brohman opens up about his life and career, and speaks highly of a number of former Panthers, including Phil Gould and Royce Simmons. He offers tremendous insights into his relationship with both. But he saved the most glowing tribute for Zivanovic.

“He’s done brilliantly,” Brohman said.

“I don’t see a lot of him but I have great respect for him. He worked his butt off to get to a situation where he then took a few risks financially… he came from nothing. I’m really happy for him.”

You can watch The Bye Round Podcast with Darryl Brohman and James Graham on YouTube.

Origin on the move?

Panthers CEO Brian Fletcher is supporting a push to move State of Origin matches to Mondays when it comes to the next TV deal.

There’s a theory that while clubs would still miss players leading up to Origin games, participants would be more likely to back-up with a long recovery period.

Origin scheduling is always a difficult one for the NRL – but I feel the league was a lot closer to minimising the impact when it had the rep round a few years back with one Origin match on a Sunday. They’ve gone backwards in having all three games on Wednesdays.

Kepaoa joins Panthers

The Panthers on Wednesday announced the signing of Asu ‘AJ’ Kepaoa on an immediate transfer from the Wests Tigers.

The 24-year-old, who made his NRL debut in 2020, has signed until the end of next season.

Asu ‘AJ’ Kepaoa. Photo: NRL Photos.

Lisati departs

The Panthers have lost youngster Ativalu Lisati after he was granted an immediate release to join the Melbourne Storm.

“Valu has been a great player for our club over the past few years, and made a positive impact on those around him,” Panthers Rugby League CEO Matt Cameron said this week.

Spotted

Panthers five-eighth Jarome Luai giving up time pre-game last Sunday to sign autographs and take photos with young fans.

Jarome Luai chatting with fans. Photo: NRL Photos.

Making cash in Vegas

The Panthers will be paid $350,000 by the NRL to give up a home game to play in Las Vegas next March. It’s a sweet deal for Penrith, who will be homeless next season as their home ground is redeveloped. Penrith will also cop a cash bonus for taking a home game to Magic Round.

Annesley’s admission

NRL Head of Football Graham Annesley has admitted Josh Aloiai should have been sin-binned for his trip on Penrith fullback Daine Laurie last Sunday.

The incident went un-noticed on the field by the match officials and wasn’t called back by the Bunker, but Aloiai was later charged and suspended for two weeks.

“It should have been a sin bin,” Annesley said.

“Even though play may continue, it doesn’t prevent a player going to the sin bin… even though the officials missed it in live play.”

NRL Head of Football Graham Annesley. Photo: NRL Images.

Brothers picked for Blues

Penrith’s Jesse and Casey McLean have both been picked for the New South Wales Under 19s side that will play Queensland in State of Origin on Thursday, June 20 at Leichhardt Oval.

Masked Panther

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