PLAYERS | Grahame Moran

moran-grahame.jpg

Panther 14

121 matches [1967-1974]

83 points [25 tries, 4 goals]

Stats: themightypanthers.com/players_moran-grahame.htm

Taree product who made his debut in the Panthers second ever premiership match in 1967, against Newtown at Penrith Park.

Alternating between centre and five-eighth, he was the Panthers first representative player, first of all for City Seconds in 1968 and then later for New South Wales in 1970. Whilst further representative honours would elude him, he would continue to provide an experienced head to the Panthers into the early to mid-1970s.

In 1973, he became the first Penrith player to rack up 100 first grade appearances for the club.

Moran would retire at the end of the 1974 season.

He would later be honoured by being named at centre in the Team of Legends to commemorate the club’s 40th anniversary in 2006, and later be one of the four initial inductees in the Hall of Fame in 2016 to mark its 50th season.

PLAYERS | Michael Jennings

jennings-michael

Panther 463

122 matches [2007-2012]

284 points [71 tries]

Stats: themightypanthers.com/players_jennings-michael.htm

Mount Druitt junior who burst on to the NRL scene for the Panthers as a 20 year old early in the 2007 season. His lethal pace was put to good use, scoring 15 tries in his rookie season and being awarded the Player of the Year award at season’s end.

Jennings’ strike rate in the 2008 would be slightly lower but yet again the centre would be the club’s top try scorer and made his representative debut by playing for Tonga in the World Cup.

2009 would see him club’s top try scorer for the third consecutive year (with one in particular being memorable against the Roosters, where he fielded a kick in the in goal, side stepped a couple of defenders and then ran 100 metres untouched). It would also see him make his New South Wales debut, playing Games 1 and 3 in the State of Origin series, and then being selected in the Australian Four Nations squad at season’s end, making his Test debut against France, where he scored a hat trick.

Jennings would continue to be a regular selection for New South Wales as well as keeping up a healthy try scoring rate, crossing for 16 tries in 2010. In 2011 though it dried up significantly to just the one try in 2011. Whilst he notched up 100 matches that season for the Panthers, separate disciplinary reasons saw him first dropped to the Windsor Wolves reserve grade team (from which he remarkably gained selection for New South Wales) and then later in the season suspended.

There was a return to form in 2012 with Jennings crossing for 10 tries, and for the fourth season be the club’s top try scorer.

However, throughout 2012, there were persistent rumours that circulated about his future at the club. In early 2013, Jennings was released to the Roosters. He would later move to Parramatta in 2016 and has spent the last five years at the club up to the end of the 2020 season.

Last updated 17 February 2021

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.

Last updated 17 February 2021

PLAYERS | Mark Geyer

geyer-mark.png

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

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

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

pritchard-frank.png

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

3066aac57e9f69a629818051f974bdcf

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.

Early in the 2007 season, 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.

The second match would see the Panthers travel up to the newly 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. At Skilled Stadium in 2011, both teams were locked up at 10-all early in the second half before the visitors were able to pull away to win 23-10.

Heading into the 2012 season, the ledger was 3 wins to Penrith and 2 to the Gold Coast. Over the next 5 seasons to the end of 2016, the two teams would meet twice a season.

In 2012, the Titans would record a crushing 36-18 victory at Skilled Stadium in June that was flattering to the Panthers after trailing 30-0 midway through the second half. This remains the Panthers heaviest loss in their short head to head history to date. However, later in that season, Penrith were able to exact revenge with a 36-22 victory at Centrebet Stadium, which included a hat trick to Brad Tighe.

The Panthers would win four straight from 2013 to 2015. This would be book ended by two large victories, both of which were at other venues away from Penrith and the Gold Coast. The first of these wins was in Darwin (where the Titans had transferred a home game), where a 12-all scoreline at half time was blown apart in the second half with the Panthers scoring 5 tries to 1, including a hat trick to James Roberts, to record a crushing 40-18 victory. This was at the time the biggest victory by Penrith over the Gold Coast. This would be eclipsed by a 40-0 hammering early in the 2015 season at Bathurst (this time a Penrith home game) – the Panthers were able to build on an 8-0 lead after a scrappy first half to run another 6 unanswered tries past the Titans.

Only a few weeks later, the two teams met again on the Gold Coast, with the Titans exacting revenge with a 32-6 win. The Titans would make it two in a row when they visited Penrith in May 2016 with a tight but well deserved 28-24 win.

The two teams would meet again late in the 2016 season at Robina. The visitors held a 14-0 half time lead, and then saw that lead completely disappear with scores tied up at 14-all before a Matt Moylan field goal with three minutes remaining broke the deadlock and the Panthers left the Gold Coast with a 15-14 victory.

This was the first of four straight wins – the Panthers recorded a 24-16 win at home in late 2017 and a more comprehensive 35-12 win early in the 2018 season.

Late in the 2018 season, 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.

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

mckendry-sam.png

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.

Last updated 4 November 2019

Penrith Panthers – from chocolate soldiers to black magic