With the season opener just around the corner we look at how the Penrith Panthers will go in 2021.
After falling agonisingly short in last year’s grand final, the Panthers will be hoping to go one step further this season and win their first premiership since 2003.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
SigningsEmbed from Getty Images
Matt Eisenhuth (Wests Tigers), Robert Jennings (Wests Tigers), Taylan May, Paul Momirovski (Melbourne Storm), Jaeman Salmon (Parramatta Eels), Scott Sorensen (Cronulla Sharks), Izack Tago, Sunia Turuva.
Caleb Aekins (Canberra Raiders), Kaide Ellis (St George Illawarra Dragons), Jack Hetherington (Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs), Pat Hollis (released), Daine Laurie (Wests Tigers), Josh Mansour (South Sydney Rabbitohs), Brayden McGrady (released), James Tamou (Wests Tigers), Zane Tetevano (Leeds Rhinos), Malakai Watene-Zelezniak (retired), Dean Whare (Catalans Dragons).
Cowboys (H), Bulldogs (A), Storm (H), Sea Eagles (A), Raiders (H).
WHAT TO EXPECT
The Panthers will have extremely high expectations heading into the 2021 season: they had a remarkable 17-game win streak last season, before falling to the Storm in the grand final. They were often underdogs in 2020, but after last year’s success they will be on every team’s hit list, so it’s up to them to continue their success as one of the title favourites.Embed from Getty Images
The Panthers are lucky to have talent right across the park. Nathan Cleary enjoyed his best season of his young career in 2020, Api Korisau was arguably the signing of the year, while James Fisher-Harris has established himself as one of the best forwards in the competition. However, Jarome Luai may become the most important player on this team. He was outstanding in his first full season last year, playing the perfect complimentary role to his halves partner. If he continues to improve, it’s not hard to believe he will be in the Dally M conversation at the end of the season.
The Panthers were relatively quiet on the signing front this off-season, as they continue to build their team from within. With a plethora of juniors coming through the ranks, they didn’t have any particular areas of need to fill with outside signings. However, players like Matt Eisenhuth and Scott Sorensen should turn into important depth options in their forward pack.
The Panthers will face a tougher draw than they did last season, as they will have to play the Storm, Roosters, and Rabbitohs twice. After a relatively friendly first half of the competition, they face a difficult run into the finals, with the Storm, Rabbitohs, Roosters, and Eels among their opponents across the final six weeks.
FEARLESS PREDICTIONSEmbed from Getty Images
Top Tryscorer – Charlie Staines.Embed from Getty Images
Top Pointscorer – Nathan Cleary.Embed from Getty Images
Club Player of the Year – Jarome Luai.