All posts by mightypanthers

PLAYERS | Tim Grant

grant-tim

Panther 464

129 matches [2007-2014; 2019]

12 points [3 tries]

Stats: themightypanthers.com/players_grant-tim.htm

Tall front rower who was a St. Mary’s junior and made his first grade debut at the age of 19.

His appearances would be limited initially, however, by 2009 he was a regular starter in the Penrith forward pack.

Grant would grow into the role, forming a formidable front row with the experienced Queensland and Australian representative Petero Civoniceva.

Upon Civoniceva’s departure from Penrith at the end of 2011, he would take up the mantle as the club’s premier front rower, and would be rewarded with selection for New South Wales for Games 2 and 3 of the State of Origin series. His intent was for all to see from the start, taking the first hit up from kick off in Game 2 and running straight towards his former front row partner.

However, his form would not warrant selection the following season, however would mark 100 first grade appearances for the club that season. By 2014 had seemingly fallen out of favour with coach Ivan Cleary. He departed from the Panthers at the end of the season, joining up with premiers South Sydney.

Grant spent two seasons at the Rabbitohs before joining the Wests Tigers in 2017.

In 2019 he returned to the Panthers, making seven appearances before suffering a season ending pectoral injury. In a selfless move, he voluntarily terminated his contract and thus gave up his spot in the NRL squad and thus allowing the promotion of another player outside of the listed 30 into the squad. In 2020 and recovered from injury, he signed with the Thirroul Butchers in the Illawarra competition, and playing on in 2021.

Last updated 23 November 2021

PLAYERS | Mark Geyer

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Panther 262

135 matches [1986-1992; 1998-2000]

36 points [12 tries]

Stats: themightypanthers.com/players_geyer-mark.htm

Mount Druitt junior who would become one of the game’s most aggressive forwards in the late 1980s and 1990s.

Making his debut as a 19 year old in 1986, he would be a part of the Panthers’ victorious reserve grade team that won the 1987 grand final and also establish himself as a key part of Penrith’s fearsome forward pack.

In 1989, Geyer would make his debut for New South Wales, which was followed up the following year with his Test debut against France on the Kangaroo Tour.

However, injuries and suspension would limit his appearances in the early 1990s for the Panthers (including a lengthy one copped during the 1991 State of Origin series), however, would make up for it with a series of dominating performances for the Panthers. One in particular was in the 1991 grand final. Despite being sin binned for backchat, he was one of the best on the field that day, having a hand in all three Penrith tries as the Panthers won their maiden premiership.

However, the following season Geyer would be released from the Panthers, after a series of events, including the death of Ben Alexander had come to a head.

In the following seasons, he would have stints at Balmain as well as the expansion club Western Reds. Upon the demise of the Reds at the end of 1997, Geyer returned to the Panthers as a much more mature player.

This new found maturity allowed him the resurrect his career and reputation, providing great service for three seasons before announcing his retirement at the end of the 2000 season.

Post retirement Geyer has secured a role in the media, and in particular with radio.

PLAYERS | Joel Clinton

424_clinton-joel

Panther 424

137 matches [2002-2007]

20 points [5 tries]

Stats: themightypanthers.com/players_clinton-joel.htm

Riverstone junior who played lower grades at Parramatta before signing with the Panthers, and debuting early in the 2002 season.

In 2003, he became a regular starter in the front row and would be an integral member of the Panthers surprise run towards their second premiership title at the end of the year. The form shown throughout the year was rewarded with selection on the Kangaroo Tour, but could not crack it for a position during any of the matches.

However, he would finally earn a Test debut in the ANZAC Test in 2004, however, would curiously not be selected for New South Wales a couple of months later for the State of Origin series. With the exception of selection for City in 2005 and 2006, Clinton would fall off the representative radar.

He would continue to provide good service for the Panthers, missing only four matches across three seasons from 2005 to 2007, and making his 100th appearance in 2006.

Midway through the 2007 season, it was announced that he would be leaving the club to go to the Brisbane Broncos. He would later play for Hull KR in the English Super League before playing out his career in the Queensland Cup for the Mackay Cutters.

PLAYERS | Luke Rooney

413_rooney-luke

Panther 413

140 matches [2001-2008]

260 points [65 tries]

Stats: themightypanthers.com/players_rooney-luke.htm

St. Dominics junior who debuted for the Panthers in his last year of high school in 2001, with the tall winger scoring 6 tries in 9 matches in his first season.

By 2002, Rooney was an established starter in the Panthers backline. The following year, he formed a lethal back three with fellow winger Luke Lewis and fullback Rhys Wesser, crossing for 17 tries, including a memorable double in the 2003 grand final as Penrith surged to their second premiership title.

He would make his representative debut in 2004, firstly for New South Wales in the State of Origin series (where he would play all three matches), and later make his Test debut when selected for the Tri Nations tournament, where he would finish the top try scorer.

Rooney remained an incumbent on the representative scene during 2005, but by 2006 he had been dropped from both teams, and his try scoring rate had dried up. During that season he ran out for his 100th match for the Panthers.

With the arrival of new coach Matt Elliott in 2007, he reportedly amongst a number of the 2003 premiership winning players who were told they could explore their options elsewhere.

At the end of 2008, Rooney left the Panthers having made the switch to rugby union. He would play a number of season both in Europe and Australia.

PLAYERS | Frank Pritchard

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Panther 436

144 matches [2003-2010]

148 points [37 tries]

Stats: themightypanthers.com/players_pritchard-frank.htm

Campbelltown junior who would debut for the Panthers as a 19 year old in 2003.

By 2005 he was a regular starter for Penrith and was selected to make his Test debut for New Zealand in the ANZAC Test.

Pritchard would emerge as one of the most damaging back rowers in the NRL and these deeds would see him be granted the nickname “Frank the Tank”.

In 2007, he scored 14 tries, just one behind the top club try scorer Michael Jennings.

He would remain an incumbent in the New Zealand Test team, and in 2008 would make his 100th appearance for the club, and then the following season captain the Panthers in one match.

Towards the end of the 2010 season, he had signed with Canterbury. He would play for 5 seasons at the Bulldogs before one season with Hull FC in the English Super League and returning for one final season with Parramatta in 2017 before announcing his retirement in early 2018.

Last updated 2 November 2019

HEAD TO HEAD | Gold Coast Titans

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22 matches [2007-2021]

15 wins, 7 losses

Stats: themightypanthers.com/results_headtohead_goldcoasttitans.htm

Although there had been a rugby league team on the Gold Coast from 1988 to 1998, with admission of the Titans in May 2005 for the 2007 season was viewed as a completely different franchise, and as such have no formal ties with the former.

The 2007 draw had to the two teams face off just once – in Round 4, the Titans would travel down to Penrith for their first encounter. In their starting 13 included Preston Campbell and Luke Swain, whom were members of the Panthers 2003 premiership triumph, and their head coach John Cartwright played a large role in their maiden premiership in 1991. The visitors led 12-6 at half time and were able to hold on for a tight but well deserved 22-20 first up win.

In 2008, once again it would be just the one meeting in the regular season – this time, the Panthers travelled up to the Gold Coast, and to the recently opened Skilled Stadium at Robina in July 2008. Penrith scored three tries to two in the first half to hold an 18-10 half time lead, and whilst the Titans were able to reduce it to 2 points early in the second half, the visitors surged ahead again and would ultimately record a 36-22 victory.

The next 3 seasons would see a continuation of the trend of one off matches – in 2009, the Titans returned to Penrith. The home team would hold a commanding 22-4 half time lead aided by a scintillating 2 try cameo from replacement fullback Jarrad Sammut. The Panthers were able to withstand a brief Titans comeback early in the second half to record a 34-22 victory.

In 2010 and 2011, the Titans would host the Panthers. In 2010, the hosts scored a 38-24 victory, whilst in 2011 the Panthers pulled away from the Titans in the second half to win 23-10.

For the first time in 2012, the two teams would meet twice home and away – but it would first be the third straight match at Robina, with the Titans crushing the Panthers 36-12. However, later in the season the Panthers were able to exact revenge with a 36-22 victory at Centrebet Stadium.

The next four seasons up until 2016 would feature two meetings in the draw – in 2013, the Titans won 28-10 at Penrith, and then in July in Darwin the Panthers would register an even more comprehensive victory to the tune of 40-10. This was the start of a four match winning streak for the Panthers, that included both meetings in 2014 and then a 40-0 crushing win at Bathurst in Round 2 of the 2015 season.

However, the vagaries of the draw saw both teams meet up again just 5 weeks later, and at CBUS Super Stadium the Titans dramatically turned around the last result with a 32-6 win.

The Titans won the first meeting in 2016, grabbing the points at Penrith and later in the season, the Panthers led 14-0 and withstood a late assault from the Titans to win 15-14 at CBUS Super Stadium.

2017 saw a return of the one-off meeting, with the Panthers winning 24-16 at Pepper Stadium.

The Panthers won bot meetings in 2018 – the first was a comprehensive 35-12 win at Penrith. Later in the season at CBUS Super Stadium, Penrith fought back from 16-6 down with only five minutes remaining to score two late tries to force golden point, before a Nathan Cleary field goal in the first period giving the visitors a 17-16 win. This extended the streak to for going back to 2016.

The Titans broke the streak early in the 2019 season with a six point win at Robina, but the Panthers kept the Titans try less later in the season with a 24-2 win.

Both 2020 and 2021 saw one off meetings, with Penrith being victorious in both. In the shortened 2020 season, the Panthers outlasted the Titans 22-14 at Robina. In 2021, the two teams met in the Magic Round at Suncorp Stadium. Penrith led 30-0 at half time, and although the Titans were down one man for a large part of the match, managed to largely prevent an ugly second half blowout.

Last updated 23 April 2022

PLAYERS | Warren Fenton

152_fenton-warren

Panther 152

147 matches [1978-1987]

62 points [19 tries]

Stats: themightypanthers.com/players_fenton-warren.htm

A member of the Panthers premiership winning Under 23s team in 1978, Fenton made his first grade debut in the same season, making 4 appearances as a replacement.

In 1979 he was able to secure a starting role, alternating between five-eighth and lock and would be awarded the Panthers Player of the Year award at season’s end.

Injuries sustained in a car accident limited Fenton to only 3 matches in 1981.

He returned in 1981 and was gaining a reputation as a never say die type player, who by then was a more permanent fixture in the forwards. Fenton would earn his second player of the year award in 1982, and then in 1984 would become the third player to make 100 first grade appearances for the Panthers.

After 145 matches across 9 seasons, Fenton would retire at the end of the 1987 season.

PLAYERS | Sam McKendry

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Player 477

147 matches [2008-2016; 2018]

32 points [8 tries]

Stats: themightypanthers.com/players_mckendry-sam.htm

Perth-born New Zealander who played juniors in Auckland before being spotted by the Panthers.

McKendry was a member of the premiership winning Jersey Flegg team in 2007, and would be a regular member in the newly introduced National Youth Competition’s squad throughout 2008 and 2009.

He made his first grade debut in 2008, and would make 3 appearances across 2008 and 2009.

McKendry would play all 26 matches in the 2010 season, mostly off the bench but occasionally as a starting front rower. Later in the season, his form was rewarded with selection in the New Zealand squad for the Four Nations tournament, making his Test debut. He would play 8 Tests over the next 3 seasons, with his final appearance being in the 2013 ANZAC Test.

Throughout the first part of the decade, McKendry would be a regular fixture in the Panthers forward pack, and registered 100 first grade appearances in 2014.

In recent seasons, he has become the most unluckiest player in the NRL. Midway through the 2016, he suffered a season ending knee injury. Upon his return during the 2017 pre-season, he suffered the same injury again, which immediately ruled him out for the season. In 2018, he made a return but would once again suffer the same injury after only two matches, once again prematurely ending his season.

In 2019, he stayed at Penrith but was not part of the 30 man NRL squad. After a 15 month lay off he returned to the field with the Canterbury Cup team, playing a few matches before announcing his retirement at the end of the season.

However in 2021 he came out of retirement and ran out for St. Marys in the third tier Ron Massey Cup.

Last updated 24 November 2021

PLAYERS | Robbie Beckett

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Panther 359

144 matches [1994-2001]

264 points [66 tries]

Stats: themightypanthers.com/players_beckett-robbie.htm

An exciting winger who would become a regular fixture in the Panthers backline from the mid 1990s to the turn of the century. Beckett was the club’s top try scorer in 1995, 1996 and 1998.

He would be selected for Australia for the World Nines pre-season competition in 1997. Further representative honours would evade Beckett, however, he had previously played for City in 1995 and 1996.

He would leave Penrith at the end of 2001 with a total of 66 tries, and at the time the fourth highest try scorer for the club.

Beckett joined the UK Super League club Halifax before returning to Australia and playing out his career at the Wests Tigers in 2003.

PLAYERS | Frank Puletua

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Panther 398

152 matches [1998-2001; 2004-2010]

16 points [4 tries]

Stats: themightypanthers.com/players_puletua-frank.htm

Older brother of Tony, he debuted in 1998. Over the next four seasons, he would play 31 matches, mostly off the bench but occasionally would start in the front row. Of Samoan heritage, he represented Samoa in the 2000 World Cup.

He would leave the Panthers after signing with the re-admitted South Sydney Rabbitohs for the 2002 season. After two seasons, he returned to the Panthers in 2004.

In his second stint, he would once again be predominantly used as a bench forward before finally earning a front row starting spot in the final round of the 2006 season.

He had signed on with the new team Gold Coast Titans for their debut season in 2007, however, was granted a release on compassionate grounds in the off-season and remained at Penrith.

Puletua would start earning more starting spots in the coming seasons, and in 2010 had joined a select club being the 16th player to make 150 first grade appearances for Penrith.

He would announce his retirement early in the 2011 season although he had been named in the squad for that season.

A talented artist, he has pursued a career post football in this field. He was commissioned by the club to paint a portrait of all 17 players selected in the 2006 Team of Legends.