With last night’s one-point win over a very capable and in-form North Queensland side, the Panthers may have finally silenced at least some of their doubters.
I wrote earlier in my 50 random NRL thoughts, the first thought in fact, that I still can’t believe fans of other teams have taken to social media to denounce the Penrith side’s title chances rather than commending them for their awesome form after a few lean seasons.
Gus Gould and Ivan Cleary’s much publicised five-year plan is well and truly on track, and could see the Panthers secure a top four spot and perhaps even a home finals fixture.
They can all but wrap up a second chance come finals time if they can beat the Melbourne Storm this coming Monday Night, which would put them six points clear of the Storm, and at least four clear of the Bulldogs.
Last night’s win was all the more impressive seeing as though the Panthers were without their halfback in Peter Wallace. Jamie Soward has moved into the seven from his preferred number six, and his replacement Will Smith is about the third or fourth choice option in the halves.
For all the talk of an ‘easy draw’ and not beating a top class side etc etc, the fact is the Panthers sit just one win off top spot on the competition table with three games remaining.
The may very well bomb out in straight sets in the finals, however surely no one can deny that the Panthers have had a brilliant season, and are worth every bit of their current standing on the table.
One for the stats gurus out there, has a team every finished minor premiers having lost twice to the wooden spooners? Although unlucky, the Panthers could still finish top, and having lost twice to the Sharks, who are favourites to ‘win’ the spoon, that’d be quite a stat.
Should Gagai Show Loyalty To Newcastle?
I know, I know, there’s that word again … ‘loyalty’ … something that seems well and truly dead and buried in today’s day and age.
The Telegraph is reporting that Dane Gagai wants to follow coach Wayne Bennett to Brisbane, as soon as next year, despite still having a year to run on his current contract.
Gagai, who was sacked from the Broncos in 2010 for a string of minor incidents, arguably had his career saved by the Newcastle side and has become a possible future rep player whilst at the club.
Darius Boyd has already made public his desire to move on from the club, continuing his ‘gun for hire’ contract status of the past few seasons. His loyalty, as it seems is Dane Gagai’s is to Bennett, not the club he players for.
Personally I see loyalty as dead in our game, with players realising their careers are short, and money becoming far more important than club loyalty.
Then again, you look at Anthony Minichiello and even non fans of the Roosters are congratulating him on remaining a one club man.
I’d love to hear from Newcastle fans to see how they feel about Gagai’s comments, knowing he has not only this season, but 2015 left on his contract.
Should Gagai show loyalty to the club that offered him a chance to rebuild his promising NRL career, or show loyalty to the man in Wayne Bennett who convinced Newcastle officials to take a punt on the young centre?
Darkest Day In Sport Conference Politically Motivated?
With reports of those implicated in the long running Asada saga set to meet with the organisation tomorrow with the possibility of show cause notices and even bans being offered, it looks as though we may finally be on our way to seeing a conclusion.
Although the details of the case are far too complicated to discuss, or even fully understand, I still wonder that if it had not been an election year, would that hyperbolic press conference have gone ahead?
Frustratingly, the common link between the Sharks and the Essendon Bombers situations, who continues to maintain his innocence, flatly refuses to even sit for an interview, and Asada seem to not have the power to compel him to do so.