Coming into the 2014 NRL season my feeling was that the Penrith Panthers would be a decent regular season team, but when it came to playing finals football they just wouldn’t have an extra gear.
Penrith have had a lot of things go their way in 2014. With a nice draw and no need to worry about the team being gutted by State Of Origin commitments, the Panthers had two aces up their sleeve that didn’t make or break their season, but they did make things a little easier.
The Panthers depth helped them get through injuries better than other clubs at times this season but last week may have seen the club dealt a final blow that they might not be able to overcome.
Peter Wallace’s season ending knee injury changes the outlook on the Panthers season completely. Rugby League betting agencies immediately pushed the Panthers odds of winning the premiership out on the news.
Wallace was a really good fit for Jamie Soward’s game, and the feeling is that without Wallace alongside side him Soward’s game will regress a little.
To be a premiership threat in 2014, Penrith needed things to fall in their favour. Wallace’s injury put an end to all of that.
The good news for Panthers supporters is that 2014 has been a bonus in terms of how well the team has played. It has been a great season for the Panthers to give experience to a number of their best young players and the future of the club in terms of being a true premiership threat relies on those players.
While I think the best the Panthers can hope for in 2014 is a win in the final series before they hit the elite teams, the future looks bright for a club whose most explosive players have all been youngsters with whole careers ahead of them.
2014 was never the goal, it was always going to be a bonus. Panthers fans can look forward to the seasons ahead and know the club will be true contenders for the title once again.