Don’t fret! Panthers and Eels will find glory
Phil Gould and the Penrith Panthers need a rethink (AAP Image/Action Photographics, Colin Whelan)
They share the bottom two spots on the National Rugby League table. It seems all is lost for the Penrith Panthers and Parramatta Eels in 2012. But it isn’t all doom and gloom for these proud clubs.
As time moves, the wheel turns.
Both Parramatta and Penrith are moulding the future of their squads as we speak. In these times, young players become stronger and their skins thicken.
Creating and keeping your roster in this day and age is an art form. While both sides have their superstars, it’s further down the chain where both clubs future lies.
Forget Jarryd Hayne, Luke Lewis and Michael Jennings for a moment.
For the Panthers, good times are surely just around the corner. The mountain men and their young stars are slowly building on their individual career games.
“My main focus is getting a big squad together that can build a foundation for the long term,” Panthers coach Ivan Cleary told Penrith Press at the beginning of 2012.
State of Origin enforcer Tim Grant has now played 82 games and is creeping up on the 100-match milestone. Kiwi international Sam McKendry has played 65 and playmaker Luke Walsh has 89 matches to his name. Lachlan Coote and Dayne Weston have 74 and 58 respectively.
This group is the most important for the Panthers. They are the men with the responsibility of taking this club forward. The expectation that they lift and improve individually couldn’t be any higher.
Parramatta are a little further back in their development, but the same expectations and pressure apply.
Mitchell Allgood , Jordan Atkins , Taniela Lasalo , Joseph Paulo  and Ryan Morgan  are that middle group of the roster that must step up. Even Tim Mannah  has a role to play.
Unfortunately coach Stephen Kearney may not get to see the Parramatta renaissance. Well, not from the Eels’ coaches box.
The group below these players are the rookies. The expectation isn’t on them as they work to find their feet. But they are the ones expected to sell tickets and merchandise in the future. The real talent is here, the ones that will probably see that white light at the end of the tunnel and enjoy the spoils.
For the Eels its kids like Cheyse Blair and talented forward Matt Ryan. Like outside backs Ken Sio and giant flyer Jacob Loko. Then there are backrowers like Pat O’Hanlon and Justin Horo.
The Panthers have utility Blake Austin who is already make strides in the top grade. Winger Josh Mansour has been a revelation and Ryan Simpkins is developing faster than many predicted. The main ingredient for the Panthers, though, is Toyota Cup star Harry Siejka.
Siejka is the next generation and plenty of good things will eventually revolve around him.
These two clubs don’t have to look outside their own boundaries to find success. Glory is staring them in the face every day of the week. It will just take some time.
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