Masked Panther: Mystery over Turuva situation

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The trouble with Turuva

You’d have to wonder if Sunia Turuva will finish the season in first grade for the Panthers.

Last Friday, he was dropped for the second time this season, relegated to 18th man against the Broncos while Daine Laurie was shifted to the wing.

As it turned out, Laurie suffered a hamstring injury and Turuva is likely to be back in the side against the Dolphins next week – unless coach Ivan Cleary goes in a different direction.

Cleary rested Turuva earlier this year after contract negotiations became a distraction. With the 2023 Rookie of the Year off to the Tigers next year, it’s clear not everything is 100 per cent hunky dory with the 21-year-old.

I asked around this week but nobody had much to say about the situation.

Sunia Turuva and Daine Laurie chatting at Suncorp Stadium. Photo: NRL Images.

Vegas, baby!

The NRL finally confirmed details of next year’s Las Vegas footy festival earlier this week.

An almost-secret launch was held last week with only selected media invited, all holding their stories and photos until everything was finally announced on Tuesday afternoon.

As expected, the Panthers will play the Sharks in the final match of an action-packed day at Allegiant Stadium on March 1.

Four games will be played in total, including a Women’s Test between Australia and England, a Super League match between Wigan and Warrington and another NRL game between the Raiders and Warriors.

Travel packages are on sale now.

Panthers stick with the strip

While planning for Vegas is still in the early stages, I’m told Penrith plan to spend the entirety of their build-up in Las Vegas itself. Some clubs last year opted to train away from Vegas and came into the city late. The Panthers are planning to spend all of their time at accommodation in Vegas, and will lock in nearby training facilities.

Taylan May in England.

Taylan jets off

Former Penrith back Taylan May headed to England some time before last Friday’s settlement was revealed.

Keen to avoid a nasty legal battle, May and Penrith agreed on terms to facilitate the controversial player’s exit from the club last Thursday night. The exact details of May’s pay out are being kept confidential.

May was already in England by then to catch up with his brother Tyrone, who ironically also left the Panthers in less than ideal circumstances back in 2021.

Taylan watched on as Tyrone played for Hull KR in a 15-14 loss to Catalans over the weekend.

Taylan’s future may well be in England – his list of suitors in Australia will be reasonably small, especially if he is ultimately found guilty of domestic violence offences next year.

Staff put through their paces

Things are certainly kept interesting if you’re working for the Panthers. Kevin Kingston recently took 20 staff through an NRL training session, starting in the gym before heading out onto the field.

I’m told it was a huge hit – and Julie from reception was the star of the show. Marketing man Darren Micallef also aced the session.

Spotted

Is there nothing Ivan Cleary can’t do? He helped set up the advertising signage for his press conference after the game against the Broncos last Friday night after media manager Michael Blok declared it was a two man job. Always looking after the sponsors.

Laurie in halves frame

Daine Laurie is among the leading contenders to replace Jarome Luai in the halves next season after signing a one-year extension last week.

Coach Ivan Cleary said Laurie is a chance to wear the number six on his back next year.

“There’s a real chance for that and he’s definitely an option,” he said.

“He’s got good instincts and this year when he’s got the opportunity, he’s just taken it.”

Daine Laurie.

McRae backs comeback

Scott McRae has confirmed he would return as ground announcer for a one-off cameo to farewell Penrith Park later this year.

It comes after the Weekender’s Peter Lang began a push for McRae to return as a nod to his tenure at the ground.

The Panthers may find the reaction hard to ignore – there’s been a huge response to Lang’s column. I’m told it’s one of the most viewed ‘Lang on League’ columns of the year.

Bookies lock in 2003 re-match

The Sydney Roosters have shortened significantly with the bookmakers after a strong middle part of the season. They’re now at $3.75 to win the competition with the TAB. That makes them second favourites behind Penrith at $3.00.

The TAB is backing a Panthers v Roosters season decider in October, with Penrith at $1.80 to make the Grand Final and Trent Robinson’s side at $2.10.

Despite leading the competition, Craig Bellamy’s Melbourne are third favourites to win the title at $5.00 and $2.50 to make the Grand Final.

Masked Panther

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