By Brady Foray Writers
The Phil Gould-Ivan Cleary era at the Panthers last season was apparently the step backwards needed in order for the club to move forward together. I wonder if they expected team mainstays Luke Lewis, Michael Gordon, Travis Burns and Michael Jennings jumping ship while the team lingered at the bottom of the ladder.
The club had a tumultuous season in 2012. Managing only four wins in the first 19 games, the Panthers struggled last year. Their remaining six wins were against cellar-dwellers in a similar predicament to them, including the Roosters twice. If not for Parramatta’s terrible form the club would’ve finished with the wooden spoon.
Now 2013 has come around and the dust has seemingly settled, it’s business time for the Panthers. Many have already written off the club for this season but we at the Brady Foray aren’t so sure. Despite losing Lewis, Jennings and Gordon, the club has signed very well. Look for new recruits Lewis Brown, James Segeyaro, Sika Manu and Wes Naiqama (among many others) to help the club climb the ladder this season. A top eight berth would deem the Penrith Panthers 2013 season a success.
Signings: Lewis Brown (Warriors), Dean Whare (Sea Eagles), Sika Manu (Storm), James Segeyaro (Cowboys), Wes Naiqama (Knights), Kyle O’Donnell (Knights), Jeremy Latimore (Dragons), James Roberts (Rabbitohs), Moses Pangai (Cowboys), Sam Anderson (Knights), Ethan Cook (Knights), Maurice Kennedy (Redcliffe), Tom Humble (Wests Tigers), Mose Masoe (Roosters), Geordie Connelly (Maitland), Etonia Nabuli (Fiji), Anthony Cherrington (Roosters)
Departures: Jesse Sene-Lefao (Manly), Michael Gordon (Sharks), Masada Iosefa (Tigers, mid-season), Nafe Seluini (Roosters, mid-season), Sandor Earl (Raiders, mid-season), Luke Lewis (Sharks), Travis Burns (Hull KR), Mitch Achurch (Leeds), Harry Siejka (Warriors), Michael Jennings (Roosters), Sarafu Fatiaki (Redcliffe), Jake Galvin (sacked), Chris Armit (Retired), Etu Uaisele (Wyong Roos), Junior Tia-Kilifi (Released), Junior Vaivai (Illawarra Cutters), Shane Shackleton (released)
Key to Success:
With high turnover of players at the Panthers this season, the most important thing coach Cleary can do is make sure the combinations and plays are efficient enough to be successful. With the inevitable presence of Manu, Naiqama, Segeyaro, Brown and former Manly utility Whare in first grade, striking up successful combinations within the team is the most important thing Penrith can do.
Player to Watch:
He is the brother of New South Wales and Australian forward Luke and in his lone first grade game to date, he was knocked out by Sam Burgess.But Kyle O’Donnell doesn’t want you to remember him by this (even though he can’t remember it). O’Donnell is on a mission to avenge his debut with the Panthers in 2013. O’Donnell’s move to the front row last season was an immediate success.
Erratic Eddy says:
“Stop writing the Panthers off. Sure they’ve lost Luke Lewis but look at the quality they’ve signed! Lewis Brown can play anywhere. Pocket rocket Jimmy Segeyaro will be a positive out of dummy half and Sika Manu has won premierships and played for his country. The Panthers have signed for the future in 2013, give it a couple of years and they’ll be a force.”
“Mose Masoe is an animal. The Panthers have signed an absolute behemoth in Masoe. In his spare time he can check over the clubs books for salary cap loop holes as he is a certified accountant.”
Strongest 17: 1-Dean Whare 2 David Simmons-3- Brad Tighe 4- Wes Naiqama 5-Josh Mansour 6- Lachlan Coote 7- Luke Walsh 8-Tim Grant 9- Kevin Kingston (C) 10- Sam McKendry 11- Clint Newton 12- Sika Manu 13- Nathan Smith. Interchange: 14- James Segeyaro 15- Lewis Brown 16- Nigel Plum 17-Dayne Weston. 18th Man: Mose Masoe.
Predicted Position: 11th