STEVE TURNER: Penrith can be the dark horse of 2013

Steve Turner Columnist

By Steve Turner, Steve Turner is a Roar Expert

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    Go on Penrith Panthers fans – dare to dream! Your club is in an exciting rebuilding phase overseen by Ivan Cleary and Gus Gould.

    Many thought you’d be merely making up the numbers this season without Michael Jennings, Luke Lewis, Michael Gordon and Co.

    You can call me crazy, but I don’t think a finals berth is completely out of the question this year.

    Unquestionably, last Sunday’s loss to the Knights stalled their momentum, but I was at that game and saw enough to think Penrith might just be able to steal eighth spot in the finals.

    They’ve got some tough opponents to overcome in the run home but I believe there is enough talent and hunger in this Panthers team to pull off a fairytale.

    Their draw reads as follows: Sharks (A), Roosters (H), Cowboys (H), Warriors (A), Brisbane (H), Bulldogs (A) and Sea Eagles (A).

    They have a big, mobile and creative forward pack and a backline capable of piling on the points against the best drilled defences.

    I like the blend of experience and youth at the foot of the mountains and with no serious public or media pressure on their campaign, I believe the Panthers can play with a degree of freedom that makes them doubly dangerous, a finals possibility.

    Old hands such as Luke Walsh, David Simmons, Clint Newton, Lewis Brown, Kevin Kingston and Nigel Plum have done some great things this year and their groundwork has seen young players such as Matt Moylan, Adam Docker, James Roberts, Isaac John and Matt Robinson catch the eye time and again with their exciting skills set.

    And then there’s hooker James Segeyaro, who has probably been the buy of the season. I love watching James in action. No matter the game situation, he makes things happen.

    Even if I am wrong with my prediction and the panthers fail to make the playoffs, great times are virtually guaranteed for the Panthers in the years ahead.

    I’m not sure if Roar readers are aware of the incredible line-up of talent rising through the grades in the Golden West.

    In the NSW Cup, there’s George Jennings (brother of Blues centre Michael) on the way up and loads of potential first graders including Bryce Cartwright (second row), Kieren Moss (fullback) and half Toby Evans.

    If you dig a little deeper in the Under 20s, you’ll find a brilliant array of future stars such as fullback Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, half/five-eighth Doug Hewitt, Waqa Blake (centre) and Wellentony Satini (wing) just waiting for their opportunity. And there are many, many more.

    The Panthers are definitely on the prowl again and don’t be surprised if they over-achieve this year.

    To my way of thinking, the club’s future could not be brighter.

    Steve Turner
    Steve Turner

    Steve Turner is a retired rugby league player currently employed at the Canterbury Bulldogs as the club's content producer. He is a regular at both ABC Grandstand and Fox Sports News. Steve played 161 NRL games for the Panthers, the Storm and the Bulldogs, as well as one game for the NSW Origin team and one game for City Origin. He played in the 2006, 07, 08 and 09 NRL grand finals. Twitter- @SteveTurner84

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    The Crowd Says (9)

    • July 23rd 2013 @ 4:49am
      Silver_Sovereign said | July 23rd 2013 @ 4:49am | ! Report

      I don’t know if I believe you Steve. You are a renegger

    • July 23rd 2013 @ 6:27am
      The Koomz said | July 23rd 2013 @ 6:27am | ! Report

      They wont make the eight, Stevey.

    • Roar Guru

      July 23rd 2013 @ 10:46am
      Dogs Of War said | July 23rd 2013 @ 10:46am | ! Report

      After losing two in a row and having the following few teams in the next few weeks…

      Sharks at Shark Park – Sharks although they lost heavily last week, I think will bounce back at home
      vs Roosters at Penrith – It’s the Roosters who are flying. I’m sure Penrith will be praying that it’s pouring rain or something to take away from the Roosters free flowing attack to have a chance in this one
      vs Cowboys at Penrith – HIghly winnable, but still a very dangerous team to play
      Warriors in NZ – I just can’t see how Penrith win this one if Warriors continue to play how they have been.

      So at best one of four in the next few weeks should see Penrith drop out of top 8 calculations.

      • July 23rd 2013 @ 6:03pm
        Doug Graves said | July 23rd 2013 @ 6:03pm | ! Report

        Agree 100%. They’re competitive for sure but I just can’t see them winning more than 2 maximum (they should beat Brisbane and Cowboys) down the home stretch. If they keep the nucleus of their team together in 2014 then I’d expect them to finish around 6-8 and be legitimate dark horses next year.

    • July 23rd 2013 @ 12:23pm
      Pomoz said | July 23rd 2013 @ 12:23pm | ! Report

      We will struggle to make the eight this year and there is a good reason for that. Against the Knights, when Adam Docker left the field the Panthers had 4 of their first choice pack missing. Sam McKendry, Sika Manu, Nigel Plum and Adam Docker. Our bench would normally have had Matt Robinson on it and he has a broken neck and Jeremy Latimore was coming back after a 15 week layoff.

      Put simply, we were trying to take on the Knights with Tim Grant, Kevin Kingston and then second and third choice bench forwards. Tim Grant still managed to make the second most metres and Masoe run for more metres than Willie Mason, but we were out gunned. I haven’t mentioned the backs with Brad Tighe and Lachlan Coote out.

      Penrith have no star players and when you take out six first grade players and a couple of the regular bench players, you are going to struggle.

      They still had a red hot go, but we will struggle to field a pack of forwards against Cronulla. I think we’re stuffed.

      • Roar Guru

        July 23rd 2013 @ 12:29pm
        Dogs Of War said | July 23rd 2013 @ 12:29pm | ! Report

        On the plus side, the depth you have recruited will have next year mean injuries won’t be as impacting.

        • July 23rd 2013 @ 12:35pm
          Pomoz said | July 23rd 2013 @ 12:35pm | ! Report

          I hope so Dogs, it is like an episode of ER out at Centrebet this year, two broken necks, two fractured eye sockets, two broken thumbs….. We should be sponsored by BUPA!

    • July 25th 2013 @ 8:57pm
      chris n said | July 25th 2013 @ 8:57pm | ! Report

      Don’t think they showed enough against the knights they only scored 2 points and were given two free trys from the video refs

    • August 24th 2013 @ 7:44pm
      Ads said | August 24th 2013 @ 7:44pm | ! Report

      What can I say.. We beat the broncos last night… Do we still have a chance now?????? .. I bloody hope we do!!!!

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