Coach Griffin be­lieves tough Pan­thers are on up­ward chart

The Sunday Mail (Queensland) - - SPORT - MICHAEL CARAYANNIS IN SYD­NEY

PEN­RITH coach An­thony Griffin has de­scribed his side’s sea­son as “re­ally good” de­spite the pre-sea­son premier­ship favourites crash­ing out in the se­cond week of the fi­nals.

The Pan­thers lost 13-6 to Bris­bane on Fri­day night af­ter be­ing bun­dled out in the cor­re­spond­ing match last sea­son.

While plenty of pun­dits pre­dicted the Pan­thers to lift the premier­ship tro­phy for the first time since 2003, Griffin has al­ways dis­tanced him­self from fore­cast­ing a ti­tle.

“I thought it was re­ally good,” Griffin said of his sea­son.

“I would love to be still play­ing. Still need a cou­ple of days to sit back and look through. I thought it was a real growth year for us as a club.

“We played tougher foot­ball this year against qual­ity op­po­si­tion. Last year with our run into the fi­nals we prob­a­bly picked off a few sides that were never go­ing to be in the fi­nals. We were play­ing well.

“This year we had to earn our spot there and had to win away to Can­berra and New Zealand un­der pres­sure with a lot of peo­ple out of our side. Ev­ery­one we played in the back end of the year were play­ing for their po­si­tion.

“I thought it was a real build on what we did last year. The hype didn’t come from us, that was ex­ter­nal.”

In­juries and off-field is­sues plagued the Pan­thers at times this year as they man­aged to cling on to a top eight spot.

Skip­per Matt Moy­lan’s fu­ture re­mains un­re­solved, with Griffin say­ing his ab­sence was not a rea­son for their early exit.

“I don’t think (we missed Moy­lan in key mo­ments),” Griffin said.

“We had a team out there that was ca­pa­ble of do­ing the job and when you’re play­ing semi-fi­nals foot­ball, you have one or two op­por­tu­ni­ties and that was the dif­fer­ence.

“We have no con­trol over (Moy­lan ru­mours). Our club have been up­front and spo­ken about it. It’s a process that our player is go­ing through. We care for him and we’ve put him through that process.”

Pan­thers rookie five-eighth Ty­rone May looks to have rup­tured his an­te­rior cru­ci­ate lig­a­ment which will rule him out of rep­re­sent­ing Samoa at the end-of-year World Cup.

“He’ll work hard and get his body right. He’s got a long ca­reer in front of him,” Griffin said.

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