Can the Panthers Complete the First Three-Peat in 40 Years?

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The Penrith Panthers will be looking to become the first team to complete a three-peat in forty years when they defend the NRL title in 2023.

Should they complete the feat they will become the first team since the Parramatta Eels to win three consecutive titles which was achieved between 1981 and 1983.

It looked like the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs would match the Eels dominance with premiership wins in 1984 and 1985 only to be beaten by their fierce rivals 4-2 in the lowest scoring Grand Final since 1924.

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At the end of that decade the Canberra Raiders emerged as superpowers, breaking through for their maiden title in 1989 after a famous win over Balmain Tigers before winning the 1990 decider against the Penrith Panthers. They would be the team who would end the Raiders reign by recording their first title in 1991.

Since 1991, four teams have won back-to-back with the Broncos doing it twice (1992-1993 and 1997-1998), Sydney Roosters (2018-2019) and the Panthers (2021-2022). For all their dominance, Melbourne surprisingly have not achieved that feat.

It is no surprise that Canadian Sportsbook have installed the Panthers as competition favourites before the 2023 competition kicks off on March 2.

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Even though they will be without premiership winning players Api Koroisau and Viliame Kikau, the Panthers title defence will still include captains Nathan Cleary and Isaah Yeo, five-eighth Jarome Luai and 2022 Clive Churchill Medal winner Dylan Edwards.

They also boast the best defence in the competition with James Fisher-Harris, Liam Martin and Spencer Leniu in the forward pack.

Other teams set to challenge the Panthers in 2023 are the Roosters, Storm, South Sydney Rabbitohs and 2022 Grand Finalists, the Eels.

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The Parramatta side in the 1980’s had some special players with Ray Price, Peter Sterling, Eric Grothe, Mick Cronin, Brett Kenny, and Steve Ella, coached by supercoach Jack Gibson.

Can this current Panthers side with Cleary, Yeo, Luai, Edwards, Fisher-Harris and Martin coached by Ivan Cleary be elevated to legendary status if they win in 2023?

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