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FRI 7 MAR 2014 • Issue 001

PROUDLY INDEPENDENT

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INSIDE Luke Priddis Junior Footy Panther Rumblings + CLASSIC PANTHERS + CELEBRITY TIPSTERS + NIGEL PLUM PROFILE + LOWER GRADES

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PENRITH PANTHERS

PREVIEW

Matthew Moylan Josh Mansour Dean Whare Jamal Idris David Simmons Jamie Soward Peter Wallace (c) Brent Kite Kevin Kingston (c) Tim Grant Lewis Brown Elijah Taylor Adam Docker James Segeyaro Nigel Plum Tyrone Peachey Sam McKendry

NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17

Darius Boyd James McManus Dane Gagai Joey Leilua Akuila Uate Michael Dobson Tyrone Roberts Kade Snowden Kurt Gidley (c) Willie Mason Beau Scott Robbie Rochow Jeremy Smith Travis Waddell Chris Houston Alex McKinnon Adam Cuthbertson

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1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17

Josh Mansour is tackled by his new team mate, Jamal Idris, last season. Photo: Melinda Jane

All eyes on new halves TROY DODDS

@troydodds

Penrith Panthers v Newcastle Knghts Kick off: SAT 8/3 • 4.30pm Sportingbet Stadium Referees: Matt Cecchin and Alan Shortall TV: Fox Sports Live 4.30pm Radio: ABC 702 Live 4.30pm

For the Knights, they’ll just be happy to get onto the field after the pre-season from hell, lowlighted by off-field issues involving Russell Packer and Willie Mason. Injuries have also caused problems for Newcastle’s preparation with star fiveeighth Jarrod Mullen to miss the first couple of months of the season and former Panther Clint Newton also suffering a long-term injury. Newton and Michael Dobson have been the only noteworthy additions to Newcastle’s squad this season, and with Danny Buderus, Neville Costigan, Kevin Naiqama, Anthony Quinn, Craig Gower and Will Smith all moving on at the end of last season, the club’s depth will well and truly be tested. That said, Newcastle faced similar issues last season but managed to get all the way to the Grand Final qualifier against eventual premiers Sydney, and hence the ability and record of coach Wayne Bennett will certainly play a role this year. If the Knights’ best players like Darius Boyd, try-scoring machine James McManus, Dane Gaigai and Kurt Gidley shine, then the side can beat anybody on their day.

A Saturday afternoon trip to Sportingbet Stadium against a side that has had so much positive press about them in the offseason is hardly ideal for Newcastle, hence why they are very much outsiders with betting agencies for this weekend’s game. If coach Ivan Cleary needs to ground his team heading into this weekend, he need only go back to 2011, when the Panthers played the Knights in the opening game of the season after a positive 2010 season in which they finished second. The Panthers were completely outclassed 42-8 that day. If Penrith are totally switched on and are well prepared, they should have too much class for the Knights – but in round one, anything is possible and nothing can be taken for granted. Team wise, the only real surprise by Ivan Cleary on Tuesday came with the naming of Brent Kite in the starting side, with Sam McKendry back to the bench. Jamal Idris was named in the centres but is still fighting a hamstring strain that may force a delay to his debut with Penrith. Cleary still has to clear one player from a five man bench, with Jeremy Latimore named as 18th man. Tip: Panthers by 10

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n paper, the Penrith Panthers are deserved favourites for Saturday afternoon’s clash with Newcastle at the newly named Sportingbet Stadium. But games are rarely won on paper and in fact, when you look beyond the team lists, history is not on Penrith’s side heading into this opening round blockbuster. The Panthers lost both games to Newcastle last season and of the 38 times they’ve played in history, Penrith has walked away with the chocolates on just 13 occasions.

That said, it is fair to say that the Penrith team that runs onto a new-look, freshened up Sportingbet Stadium on Saturday will be one of the strongest, most confident line-ups in almost a decade. Even with injuries to key men like Sika Manu and James Roberts, the Panthers look strong across the park. All eyes will of course be on the new halves combination of Jamie Soward and Peter Wallace, who incredibly didn’t get to play alongside each other once during the pre-season due to various circumstances beyond coach Ivan Cleary’s control. It is certainly not ideal that Soward and Wallace will first partner up when two competition points are on the line, but the pair would have worked on their combination throughout the off-season and the fact that they play on opposite sides of the ruck means it’s not too much of a disadvantage. “We’ve been doing a lot of work in training, hopefully that will be enough to roll into this week,” Wallace said. “It was unfortunate Sowie hurt his ankle a week before the last trial but the work we’ve been doing at training has been pretty good.”


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FEATURE STORY

New blood at Panthers I NATHAN TAYLOR

@natetaylor87

Excitement is building ahead of the 2014 NRL season with a host of new players set to light up Sportingbet Stadium including some of the code’s biggest names

t’s no secret that the Penrith Panthers have enjoyed the biggest recruitment drive of any NRL club this off-season. In fact it could be regarded as the most number of talented new faces to join the club in its near 50 year history. Tomorrow afternoon, the new-look Panthers are finally unleashed upon the rugby league world for the first time in season 2014. What impact will they have? Who will be the best buy? What will each new player bring? All those questions and more will finally be answered come 4.30pm Saturday against the Newcastle Knights. To get you prepared for tomorrow’s big season opener, Extra Time will take you through Penrith’s newest buys one-byone and analyse what they’ll add to the mighty Panthers… JAMAL IDRIS: He may be 195cm tall and weigh 120kg but the giant that is Jamal Idris literally came out of the blue to Penrith fans who witnessed this man mountain switch from the Gold Coast Titans to the Panthers just weeks out from the pre-season trials. Big Jamal is one of the most devastating players in the game, and his hulking frame and great offloading skills will be a huge asset to Penrith’s backline both in attack and defence.

BRENT KITE: Many people say leadership and experience are the most valuable qualities a player can add to a team, and new Penrith prop Brent Kite has bucket loads of it. Switching from the Manly Sea Eagles where he played in four grand finals (winning two), Kite will add plenty of much-needed experience to Penrith’s forward pack. KEVIN NAIQAMA: If there was a 100m sprint between the NRL’s fastest players, Kevin Naiqama would be in it and he would have a very good chance at winning. The younger brother of fellow Panther, Wes, Naiqama joins the club via the Newcastle Knights where he made a name for himself for being blinding fast and exciting to watch. The 25-year-old can play a range of positions in Penrith’s backline and will certainly be pressing a claim to nail one of them. TYRONE PEACHEY: If James Segeyaro was Penrith’s X-Factor player last season then former Cronulla Shark Tyrone Peachey has the ‘X’ on his back this season. Making his first grade debut last year, the man known as ‘Peach’ will give the Panthers that added spark off the bench in a number of roles including lock, second

Tyrone Peachey. Photo: Melinda Jane

“Kev and Pete are natural leaders and they have the combined respect of all the boys in the squad” Ivan Cleary

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FEATURE STORY

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row and hooker. The 22-year-old is flashy with the ball and can create an opportunity out of thin air. JAMIE SOWARD: If anyone has pressure on them to perform this season it’s none other than new five-eighth Jamie Soward. After leaving his old club in controversial circumstances last season, the 29-year-old has a lot to prove to the fans and himself. Soward’s long kicking game and footy brain will have a big impact on Penrith.

PETER WALLACE: Joining Soward in the halves is former Penrith junior Peter Wallace who looks refreshed and reinvigorated since falling out with former club Brisbane last winter. Wallace was this week named as co-captain of the Panthers along with hooker Kevin Kingston. “Keve and Pete are natural leaders and they have the combined respect of all the boys in the squad,” said coach Ivan Cleary.

Wallace has been one of the standouts in Penrith’s pre-season campaign, directing the play and running the show. His kicking game is also solid and he is the ideal partner to coexist with Soward’s flair and brilliance. With Wallace finally back where he belongs, expect him to fit in like a glove this season and beyond. ELIJAH TAYLOR: One of the first of the new recruits to sign on with the Panthers

for this season was New Zealand international Elijah Taylor. His old club, the Warriors, were so shattered to lose the talented backrower that they pleaded with him to reconsider his move. Taylor will provide the Panthers with leadership, strong tackling and dazzling ball handling skills. Expect him to put plenty of players in for tries, that’s if he doesn’t score them himself. Taylor could emerge as the buy of the season.

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Peter Wallace in action for Penrith against Newtown last month. Photo: Melinda Jane

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FEATURE STORY

The Panthers want you! T @troydodds

The big guns at Panthers like Phil Gould and Warren Wilson are calling on Penrith fans to show how much they care about the club this season by packing out Sportingbet Stadium

he big names at the Penrith Panthers are calling on fans to attend matches this season in their droves as the club aims to increase crowd numbers on the back of record membership figures. With the 10,000 member target in sight, the Panthers are making big changes at Penrith Stadium itself to improve the match day experience for fans. As revealed by the Weekender last week, there’s a host of changes being made to the venue in the lead-up to round one. Social media was abuzz on Tuesday after photographs showed the traditional Panthers scoreboard being taken away by a crane – part of a host of changes being made at the venue ahead of Saturday’s season opener. Panthers boss Phil Gould is hoping fans embrace the team this year and start by turning out in big numbers tomorrow. “It’s one thing to say you care about the Panthers, it’s another thing to show how much you care,” Gould said. “Turning up on game day to cheer on the team, makes us feel that everything we do, really is worthwhile. A full house would mean the world to our club.” Panthers Group CEO Warren Wilson is hoping that Penrith Stadium becomes a

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They want you: Ivan Cleary, Warren Wilson, Phil Gould (front), Jamal Idris, Kevin Kingston and Peter Wallace (back). Photo: Simon Gould fortress this year and says it all starts this weekend against Newcastle. “As a St Marys junior, some of my fondest memories were coming to a packed Panthers Stadium to be part of the special atmosphere,” he said. “Personally, round one can’t come soon enough. I look forward to all the Panthers

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faithful supporting us and being part of what will be a remarkable experience on March 8.” In the Weekender last week, Group Marketing Manager Anthony Frantzis said fans would be pleased with the changes being made at the stadium, which have been months in the planning.

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New faces are the key for Panthers I

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PRIDDO'S POINT LUKE PRIDDIS

The time to obtain that winning edge through hard work over the pre-season is now gone

t’s footy time again. Rugby league is a game that can divide family ties and split the closest friendships, as you become sparring partners based on the team we pledge our allegiances to for the next 30 weeks. The time to obtain that winning edge through hard work over the pre-season is now gone. It will be at some point during the season when the ‘dream of glory’ is over for another year, that coaches and players will begin to look back on what wasn’t done or shortcuts taken that determine success or failure in this competition. For the Penrith Panthers, it is time to come of age. Big name recruits led by Jamie Soward, Peter Wallace, Brent Kite, Jamal Idris and Elijah Taylor are expected to bring success and their history in the game suggests they will do just that. The fans have watched the clean-out of players over the past two years and should not accept anything less than a successful season in 2014. There is now a strong base of new senior players, hand-picked to lead the growing band of exciting youngsters who have emerged and are ready to make their mark in the big time.

New five-eighth Jamie Soward

There is a massive gap between junior footy of the 20’s and first grade but I am excited to see which one of these new kids on the block will step out of the shadows and into the limelight. Players like George Jennings and Bryce Cartwright are tipped to make their first grade debuts this year and it’ll be exciting to see them come through the ranks and realise their NRL dreams. There can be no more excuses for the team not to deliver on the field. However, credit must be given for the changes made away from the field and while they are not yet complete there is a solid base from which to build. I believe that when success does eventually occur on the field, the Panthers should now be well positioned to manage and capitalise on this success. There is very little doubt that the people at Panthers these days have the right intentions and are keen to see the club move forward and experience success. As we kick off I wish all teams the best for the season and despite the arguments that will follow, I am sure we will see the best side come up trumps on Grand Final evening. Whether or not it will be the Panthers is something the roller coaster ride of the season ahead must decide.

Winter 2014 Registrations

Tuesday Evenings - MIXED Thursday Evenings - MENS Registrations are now being taken for the Winter 2014 competitions. Registration forms available at www.penrithoztag.com.au or call 0421 448 158 Competition Starts Registration Dates

Tuesday 29th April 2014 for Mixed Thursday 1st May 2014 for Mens The Kingsway Fields Werrington from 10am - 1pm Saturday 29th March and Saturday 5th April 2014

Call us on 0421448 158 to organise registrations if you cannot make the above dates

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Cost is $95 per senior player and $75 for U/18 (min 10 players per team) Professionally administered competition, prize money paid to all winners/runners up. We also enter Representative Teams into a number of tournaments. All registered players welcome to trial

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New look for cheerleaders

with the Masked Panther

Send your Panthers gossip to news@westernweekender.com.au

The NRL last week announced changes to the 2014 Salary Cap to help clubs which suffer heavy injury tolls during the season. A fair and transparent appeals process will also be put in place this year to adjudicate on contested decisions relating to the salary cap. This follows the drama last year that saw Matt Moylan forced to play in the NSW Cup because of second tier salary cap restrictions. This year, the “second tier” salary cap will be increased from $375,000 to $440,000. NRL Chief Operating Officer Jim Doyle said this will give clubs more flexibility to bring in players outside their top roster.

Phil Gould with Ross Fowler at Penrith City Council’s civic reception

Among the great initiatives at Panthers this year has been a ‘Wall of Fans’ competition, where four fans have been selected to have their special message to the squad plastered along the walls of the player’s tunnel. It’ll mean that the words of the fans will be the last thing the boys see before they run out.

The winners of the competition were Ben Cummins, Dallas Barham, Nadine Chilvers and Glenn Wilson. And proving that the Panther brand is spreading around the world, Glenn is from Washington State, USA! For the last few years Penrith City Council has held a civic reception to help launch the NRL season. This year was no different and the event was held last Thursday night. Pictured is Panthers boss Phil Gould with Mayor, Ross Fowler.

NATHAN TAYLOR

9 @natetaylor87

For the first time in a long time the Penrith Panthers will play three grades of footy at Sportingbet Stadium this Saturday afternoon. Kicking off the round will be Penrith’s reigning Holden Cup premiership side up against the Knights, although the Panthers line-up will be vastly different to the one that won on October 5.

Expect the Panthers to confirm soon that their round 20 match against the Sharks is the game moving to Bathurst. NRL members and fans will enjoy train travel as part of their tickets to all Telstra Premiership games at ANZ Stadium in 2014. NRL CEO Dave Smith said the NRL had teamed with the NSW Government and ANZ Stadium to include return rail transport to the stadium for anyone with an NRL ticket. South Sydney Rabbitohs and CanterburyBankstown Bulldogs, the major tenants at ANZ Stadium, have also played an integral role in achieving this deal for members and fans. “It will apply to all 27 club games being played at ANZ Stadium this season. In other words, when you buy a ticket in advance for any game at ANZ you get the transport thrown in,” Mr Smith said. It’s the case of the mystery bumper stickers! It’s hardly the biggest issue in the world, but fans are yet to see the bumper sticker that was promised to them as part of their 2014 membership packs. We understand the stickers will be sent out separately at some stage during the season. An icon of Penrith Stadium is set to be missing this season. I’m hearing that the traditional Panther scoreboard will either be removed, or relocated, for the 2014 season. The scoreboard has been in its current location on the southern hill for as long as I can remember. It appears, however, that the old scoreboard’s time is up.

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PANTHER RUMBLINGS

The Penrith Panthers cheerleaders have a brand new look for the 2014 season, to be revealed at tomorrow’s first home game against Newcastle. It’s going to be a big change for the squad, with the look completely overhauled but more in tune with the Panthers name and feel.

Lower GRADES

A big year is ahead for our lower grades “Due to injuries in the NSW Cup, you’ll see a lot of new faces in round one and probably only three that played in the side last year,” NYC coach Trent Barrett said. Two of the fresh faces Panther fans should get excited to see this season are PNG international and monster Wellington Albert as well as Mark Geyer’s talented son, Logan. “Logan’s still really young and this year is really important for his development. Wellington is also very raw but he’s certainly got a lot of natural ability, he’ll be a work in progress,” Barrett said. Meanwhile, in the second game of the afternoon, the Panthers will also take on the Newcastle Knights in the NSW Cup. With Penrith’s backline hit with a number of serious injuries courtesy of the recent trials, Panthers coach Garth Brennan will look to his experienced players in Isaac John and Nathan Smith as well as some fresh faces in Dallin WateneZelezniak and Kevin Naiqama to lead the way for him. Holden Cup kicks off at 12.30pm, followed by the NSW Cup at 2.15pm.

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CELEBRITY TIPSTERS

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NRL LADDER

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W

D

L

B

F

A

+/- Pts

1 Panthers

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

ROUND 1

2 Raiders

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Rabbitohs v Roosters

3 Bulldogs

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Thursday 8.05pm ANZ Stadium

4 Sharks

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

5 Titans

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

6 Sea Eagles

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

7 Storm

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Panthers v Knights

8 Knights

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

9 Cowboys

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Saturday 4.30pm Sportingbet Stadium

10 Eels

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Sea Eagles v Storm

11 Broncos

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Saturday 7.00pm Brookvale Oval

12 Rabbitohs

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

13 Dragons

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

14 Roosters

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Saturday 9.00pm 1300 Smiles Stadium

15 Warriors

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Dragons v Tigers

16 Tigers

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Sunday 3.00pm ANZ Stadium

Extra Time Issue Number 001 PRINTED BY Spotpress Pty Ltd / PRODUCED BY The Western Weekender EDITOR Troy Dodds / 4722 2998 / troy.dodds@westernweekender.com.au CONTRIBUTORS Nathan Taylor / Luke Priddis / Yvonne Purtell / Erin Molan SALES MANAGER Simon Gould / 4722 2998 simon.gould@westernweekender.com.au

Bulldogs v Broncos Friday 8.05pm ANZ Stadium

Cowboys v Raiders

Eels v Warriors Sunday 6.30pm Pirtek Stadium

Sharks v Titans Monday 7.00pm Remondis Stadium

Nigel Plum Born in 1983 in Wagga Wagga, Nigel made his first grade debut in 2005

Best moment in the NRL: My debut Worst moment in the NRL: Any time I’ve been off with injuries. I get so bored! Favourite team growing up: Sydney Roosters Closest teammate: Dave Simmons Sporting idol: Brad Fittler Favourite TV show of all time: ‘Shaun the Sheep’

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PD

Club


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A code divided, Countdown a legend returns to April 26 YVONNE PURTELL

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PANTHERS FLASHBACK

JUNIORS @penrith_juniors

The 2014 Junior League season is fast approaching with the season kicking off on April 26. Our U13 and U14 CUBS program was conducted over the summer period with merit squad selections having taken place this week (weather permitting), which will see the end of the program for this season with the players returning to their JL clubs. We certainly hope the players enjoyed this program and take back some of the new skills they learnt throughout the program. Our representative programs have started the 2014 season positively, this weekend seeing the local derby with Penrith taking on the Western Sydney Academy of Sport. Good luck to all teams for this game and the remainder of the season. The Glenmore Park Brumbies are to be congratulated for their proactive approach with the development of their new signs. What a great message: Please Remember – These are kids; This is a game; The coaches are volunteers; The referees are human; and This is not NRL. These signs certainly complement the ones developed by the JL a number of years ago… well done! The district is supporting Try Time, a non-contact program developed for special needs and intellectually disabled children and adults. The Brothers club is running a Come and Try day at their ground, Hickeys Lane on Sunday, March 16 between 8.30am and 10.30am. A Girls Rugby League information session and clinic will be held at Sportingbet Stadium on Monday, March 10 commencing at 4pm. Any girls interested in playing rugby league in 2014 come along and register your interest.

Captaincy announcement Penrith coach Ivan Cleary has delivered a pre-season surprise by naming Peter Wallace as a co-captain for the 2014 season alongside 2013 skipper Kevin Kingston.

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“They will be exceptional mentors for our younger play-

ers, and they agree with the direction we want to take the team into the future,” Cleary said on Monday. Cleary’s move makes sense given Kingston is no longer an 80 minute player, spending time on the bench during matches to allow game time for James Segeyaro. While both are often on the field at the same time, Wallace is likely to play 80 minutes every week, and has clearly impressed during the preseason campaign.

TROY DODDS

@troydodds

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997 was an intriguing year at the foot of the Mountains, where emotions collided, loyalties were tested, finals footy was played and a club legend returned. For rugby league fans, 1997 is a year few want to remember for obvious reasons. With the game torn apart and two competitions running, most of the action was off the field rather than on it, and if it wasn’t for Newcastle’s inspiring last gasp win over Manly in the ARL Grand Final, most probably would consider 1997 a year to forget. For Penrith, though, it was a reasonably happy time on the field. The club had joined the breakaway Super League competition, but for loyal fans, there was a bigger story than that. Greg Alexander, who had left the club to join the Auckland Warriors in 1995, was returning home. ‘Brandy’ Alexander, a local junior who led the club to premiership success in 1991, had faced a tumultuous time at Penrith after the death of his brother Ben in 1992, and went to the Warriors looking for a fresh start and a new challenge. His return to Penrith, however, was greeted with huge applause and praise from fans, who had missed seeing him run out for them every week. Sporting a bizarre multi-coloured jersey that would somehow survive until the end of the 1999 season, the Panthers ran out onto the park on March 2, 1997 for the first match of the season. They easily accounted for the Western Reds, and would go on to win six of their first eight games. As if the script was written for him, Alexander capped off his return to Penrith with a 70 metre intercept try that had the small but vocal crowd on its feet. As the season rolled on, and as the rugby league world got murkier and murkier behind the scenes, Penrith kept performing reasonably well despite a big injury toll. Penrith made the finals, and on a wet and windy night at Belmore Sports Ground, accounted for Canterbury 15-14. A Ryan Girdler field goal proved the difference on the night, but the game belonged to Tony Puletua and Matt Adamson who produced standout performances.

Greg Alexander returned to Penrith in 1997

For rugby league fans, 1997 is a year few want to remember for obvious reasons

The Panthers faced Canberra the following week in an elimination final, and the Raiders proved too strong, defeating Penrith 32-12. Raiders hooker Luke Priddis, who would go on to produce a man of the match winning performance for Penrith in the 2003 Grand Final, was the standout on the day. Alexander only played six games in 1997 and certainly wasn’t the ticket-selling commodity officials had hoped for, but his cameo appearances throughout the season were certainly a highlight. The emergence of Craig Gower, Ryan Girdler and Matt Adamson were particular highlights of a season rugby league has now confined to history.

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PANTHERS IN PICTURES Brent Kite now calls Penrith home Photo: Melinda Jane

Welcome to the Panthers

Elijah Taylor comes to Penrith from the Warriors

You won’t recognise the Penrith Panthers when they run out for the first time this weekend, with a host of new players joining the club for the 2014 season. Among them is veteran forward Brent Kite, who has a new lease on life @wwpenrith

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1. Jamal Idris was the last of the new recruits to join Penrith. 2. Peter Wallace is returning home 3. Tyrone Peachey is expected to have a big season for the Panthers. 4. New five-eighth Jamie Soward Photos: Melinda Jane

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Extra Time March 7  

Extra Time March 7 edition. Your home of the NRL in Penrith. Dedicated to the Penrith Panthers.