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How Penrith cultivated an environment of winning


The saying goes if you want to be a winner, hang around winners.

With New South Wales recently tasting success with a series win that included six Panthers, it’s as if winning follows them everywhere they go.

They’ve already claimed the Origin shield, and it would take a brave pundit to tip against the NRL premiership making its way to Penrith some three decades after the ’91 side climbed the mountain.

But trophies, shields and accolades are a product of one key thing – an environment of winning.

Talent scouts and recruitment managers often get lost in stats and on individual performance, but when it comes to the crunch, is the player you are signing a winner? Is winning something that they are used to?

At Penrith, they’ve got that in spades, with key stars tasting success before ever pulling on the Panthers jersey in first-grade.

Origin forward Isaah Yeo won the Holden Cup in 2013 before he moved to Penrith and Api Koroisau won a Grand Final with the Bunnies in 2014.

But we’re not just talking about those who’ve come into the club as adults, because in the junior ranks it’s even more impressive for the club at the foot of the mountains.

Since combining in the SG ball ranks in 2015, the Nathan Cleary/Jarome Luai partnership has more than an 80 per cent win rate, a truly astonishing number.

That perfect partnership along with James Fisher-Harris, Tyrone May, Brent Naden, Dylan Edwards and Moses Leota beat a Manly under 20s side in the 2015 Grand Final that possessed Tom Trbojevic, Nicho Hynes, Luke Garner and Jesse Ramien.

One year later, the Panthers SG Ball Team defeated the young Steelers who had Zac Lomax, and of course it was Brian To'o who scored the try to seal the Grand Final.

In ‘17 The Panthers defeated a Wyong side which had Paul Momirovski, Nat Butcher and Lyndsay Collins. But Luai. Viliame Kikau, Liam Martin and the one that got away – Maika Sivo, were too strong there as well.

One year after that, the Panthers again claimed the SG title, this time Matt Burton, Charlie Staines and Stephen Crichton all lifted the Cup, and of course Staines found a way to score.

When you include Kurt Capewell’s Origin series win last year as a crucial member of Queensland’s side, that means the entire Panthers starting 13 has tasted significant success at some stage.

While Koroisau is the only current starter with an NRL ring, I’m predicting that the other twelve will join him very soon – perhaps in just three months’ time.

Photo: NRL Images

Penrith Panthers

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