Pen­rith Pan­thers

2016 fin­ish: Fi­nals week one

Rugby League Week - - Nsw Cup -

The coach says: If his­tory re­peats, the Pan­thers are in for a big 2017. The last time Garth Brennan coached their NSW Cup side in 2014, they won the pre­mier­ship. Bet­ter still, he pro­moted a host of NYC stars that year, who have since be­come house­hold names. “I’m real ex­cited about the young kids we’ve got com­ing through,” he re­veals. “It re­minds me of when I went from coach­ing the 20s in 2013 to re­serve grade in 2014 and we brought through Isaah Yeo, Waqa Blake, Rea­gan Camp­bell-Gil­lard and Bryce Cartwright and won the comp. Now I’ve got a sim­i­lar crop with blokes like Dy­lan Ed­wards and Oliver Clark. These kids have to ex­pe­ri­ence a year play­ing against men be­cause there’s a big step from 20s to first grade . . . Blood­ing these kids is some­thing that I’m pas­sion­ate about and it’s some­thing that fu­els the fire for me.”

Player to watch: Utility Sione Ka­toa ( right) will make peo­ple stand up and take no­tice in 2017. “Sione played one game of first grade back at the end of 2015 and last year he was NSW Cup but he had is­sues with sus­pen­sions and things like that. And last pre-sea­son he prob­a­bly didn’t look af­ter him­self real well and wasn’t in the best shape, but this year he’s come back in great shape, he’s train­ing the house down and he’s one that I think has a real big year ahead of him,” Brennan pre­dicts. “He’s a hooker but he can play lock, he can play back row, and he can play in the halves . . . I think he’s go­ing to be some­one who’ll put a lot of pres­sure on the first-grade squad this year.”

KEY GAINS: Michael Old­field, Tony Sa­tini, Samisoni Langi, Lach­lan Stein

KEY LOSSES: Ge­orge Jen­nings, Josh Hall, Shane Kiel, Stan­ton Al­bert

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