PLAYERS | Scott Sattler

405_sattler-scott

Panther 405

118 matches [1999-2003]

66 points [16 tries, 1 goal]

Stats: themightypanthers.com/players_sattler-scott.htm

Sattler was a Gold Coast junior who had also been at the Roosters and South Queensland before arriving at Penrith in 1999.

He would soon become a hard working forward, predominantly as a second rower and lock, but skilful enough to also be occasionally named at five-eighth. Sattler’s status as a valuable member of the Panthers was rewarded with being named the club’s player of the year in 2001.

He would be named for his one and only appearance for Queensland in 2003, coming off the bench in Game 2.

Due to salary cap constraints, the popular Sattler would be squeezed out of the Panthers, with the 2003 grand final being his final appearance for the Panthers. He made it a memorable last match, providing a match turning tackle early in the second half when the match was delicately poised at 6-all, when he was able to chop down Roosters winger Todd Byrne with a well-timed cover tackle that also bundled him into touch.

Leaving Penrith as a premiership winner, he would link up with the Wests Tigers, where he would be club captain in 2004 before retiring at the end of the season.

Post retirement, he has taken up a role in the media as well as being a key part of the Gold Coast Titans entry into the NRL in 2007.

PLAYERS | Lew Zivanovic

163_zivanovic-lew

Panther 163

116 matches [1979-1986]

15 points [5 tries]

Stats: themightypanthers.com/players_zivanovic-lew.htm

Parramatta junior who debuted in 1979 and would quickly be renowned for his high work rate, and often topping the team’s tackle count in each match.

He would play his 100th first grade match for the Panthers in 1985, but would retire at the end of the 1986 season at the age of 27 to focus on outside work commitments.

Post retirement he has become a successful property developer and has continued his ties with Penrith through corporate sponsorship.

PLAYERS | Colin Van Der Voort

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Panther 260

115 matches [1986-1994]

28 points [7 tries]

Stats: themightypanthers.com/players_vandervoort-colin.htm

Hard working forward who would be one of the Panthers most consistent players throughout the late 1980s and 1990s.

Injuries would cruel Van Der Voort – first of all in 1990 when he missed out on the teams maiden grand final appearance, and then in 1991 where he was selected to make his debut for New South Wales but would unfortunately fail to pass the medical. However, representative football did not completely pass him by, playing for City in 1991 and 1992.

In 1991, he would become a member of the teams maiden premiership win, starting at lock (where he would play the majority of his career at the Panthers). He would also lead the Panthers as captain in one match that season.

Injury would cut his 1993 season to just one match, but would return in 1994 for what would be his final season before entering into retirement.

PLAYERS | Matt Goodwin

Panther 212

119 matches [1983-1989]

40 points [10 tries] 

Stats: themightypanthers..com/players_goodwin-matt.htm 

West Wyalong junior who was lured to Penrith after playing for Country Firsts in 1982 and would become a fiery and whole hearted forward for the club throughout the mid to late 1980s.

He would become a crowd favourite at Penrith Park and be awared the club’s Player of the Year award in 1987.

At the end of 1989, he would leave the Panthers and would play for three more seasons at Parramatta and South Sydney before injuries saw him retire in 1992.

HEAD TO HEAD | Canterbury Bulldogs

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98 matches [1967-2021]

42 wins, 53 wins, 3 draws

Stats: themightypanthers.com/results_headtohead_canterbury.htm

The head to head history with the “Berries” goes back to the days prior to their admission to the Sydney premiership in 1967. The second division Penrith outfit made headlines in the rugby league world by defeating Canterbury in the 1965 knockout State Cup.

Upon Penrith’s promotion to the first division in 1967, their first ever premiership match was against Canterbury at Belmore Oval on 2 April 1967. Canterbury won 15-12, but the Panthers led during the second half, and only poor goal kicking denied a first up win. Halfback Laurie Fagan scored the club’s first ever try.

The Panthers would register their first win against Canterbury in the second round of 1968. In what was reported as a scrappy encounter marred but a number of errors, the Panthers led 7-6 mid way through the second half before pulling away with an unconverted try then later a penalty conversion to win 12-6. Penrith would win both matches in 1969, with the ledger being 3 wins apiece at the end of that decade.

Canterbury would win 6 consecutive matches from 1970 to 1972 and would continue to have the wood over Penrith throughout the 1970s, although the Panthers would record three wins in a row in the mid-1970s. The best of these wins was undoubtedly the 17-0 victory at Penrith Park in 1976, which would be the first time Penrith had held a team scoreless.

Both meetings in 1978 would be drawn, with both eerily being 7-all against the newly renamed Canterbury Bulldogs. The Panthers were able to withstand a lop sided scrums won statistic to hold the Bulldogs to a draw at Belmore in the first round, whilst the return match later in the season at Penrith Park saw the home team come back from a 7-0 half time deficit through two penalty conversions and a try to force the draw.

The Bulldogs would be crowned the most successful side of the 1980s, winning four premierships, and Canterbury continued to hold an ascendancy over Penrith, with the Panthers only winning 5 of the 18 meetings.

The best of these wins was the fifth for that decade, with a resounding 38-4 thrashing of the defending premiers at Penrith Park. A near perfect first half had the Panthers purring with a 26-0 lead at the break, and continued the carnage in the second half. It was viewed by many as one of the club’s best ever victories to date.

The 1990s would be better for the Panthers, winning 7 and drawing 1 of the 14 meetings. Canterbury would win the first of these meetings with a 24-2 win at Penrith Stadium, but then would be characterised by both teams recording streaks of varying lengths.

Penrith would win 3 in a row across the 1991 and 1992 seasons, the last of these being a 23-16 win at Belmore in 1992, in which the Panthers benefited from some refereeing decisions in the second half to squeak home. Canterbury (also the Sydney Bulldogs) would win the next 5 from 1993 to 1996.

In 1997, the two teams would meet three times during what would be the solitary Super League season. The Panthers would win all three, including the semi final at Belmore. Leading 15-8 at half time, the Panthers were able to withstand a grandstand finish, including two disallowed Bulldogs try to hold on for a 15-14 win.

This streak was extended to four in their one off meeting at Penrith in 1998, and their one off meeting in 1999 finished with a 22-all draw at Stadium Australia.

The new century would start with the Panthers recording a 26-0 nil shut out at Stadium Australia early in the 2000 season, however, the Bulldogs would win 8 of the next 10 matches to their first meeting in 2005.

The two Penrith victories in this stretch, both at Penrith Stadium in 2003 and 2004 were arguably the best 2 encounters in their head to head history. In June 2003, a then record crowd of 22,147 saw a pulsating 28-26 victory to the home team, in a match that saw the lead change numerous times, and was only sealed in the closing minutes. Almost a year later, this was topped by a cracker. In an electric first half, the Bulldogs and Panthers traded tries, with the visitors holding on to a 25-18 half time lead. The opening 20 or so minutes of the second half was a grinding affair, before the home team put on the after burners in the last quarter to record a captivating 40-29 victory. A few months later in the return match at Telstra Stadium, the Bulldogs would crush the Panthers 46-20, in what is still their biggest loss to Canterbury.

They would meet for a third time that season in the preliminary final at Aussie Stadium. The defending premiers Penrith led 8-4 in the second half, however, a sin binning to fullback Rhys Wesser appeared to be the turning point, with the Bulldogs using the one man advantage to take the lead, and then ran over the Panthers to win 30-14.

From 2005 to 2009, the Panthers would bounce back winning 6 of the 9 encounters. Whilst none of these wins would reach the same dizzying heights of 2003 and 2004, Penrith would record their biggest victory to date against the Bulldogs at Penrith Stadium in 2008. On the back of a humiliating 62 point loss the week before in Canberra, the Panthers completed one of the biggest turnarounds in premiership history by cracking the half century and defeating the eventual wooden spooners 52-16.

Three straight wins to the Panthers in the 2010 and 2011 seasons would be countered by two Bulldogs victories in one off clashes in 2012 and 2013.

They would meet three times in 2014 – in the regular season, the Panthers secured victory on the full time siren in Round 3 at Penrith and won again later in the season at ANZ Stadium. The third time would be, almost ten years from the day, yet another meeting in a preliminary final. And once again, the Bulldogs were the victors and ended a stirring run from an injury depleted Panthers team.

Between 2015 and 2019, Penrith would win 5 of their 9 encounters. The first of these was a 24-18 win over a fast finishing Bulldogs in the opening round of the 2015 season – it in a way avenged the preliminary final defeat from the previous year. Whilst Canterbury would win the next two, the Panthers then won the next three.

The first of these was their fourth meeting in the finals arena, in yet another high stakes encounter, this time being an elimination final in the opening week. The sixth placed Panthers blew open the contest against the seventh placed Bulldogs in the second half, recording a commanding 28-2 win at Allianz Stadium. In 2017, Penrith recorded a 38-0 shut out at ANZ Stadium – eclipsing their 2008 win for biggest winning margin – whilst later in the season at Pepper Stadium it was a closer contest.

The Bulldogs won 2 of the 3 contests to round off the decade in 2018 and 2019.

In 2020, the Panthers and Bulldogs were at opposite ends of the table – meeting in the final round, the minor premiers in waiting (Penrith) smashed the locked in wooden spooners (Canterbury) 42-0, and set yet another new mark for their biggest win. Their two meetings in 2021 were once again big wins to Penrith, 26-0 in Round 2 at Bankwest Stadium and then 30-4 in Round 12 at BlueBet Stadium– over the three matches, the Panthers were up 98-0, and the duck egg was only broken with a late unconverted try.

Canterbury also has the distinction in being only 1 of 2 clubs (the other being Cronulla) in terms of playing at least once against Penrith in all their seasons from 1967 to now.

Last updated 9 April 2022

PLAYERS | Brad Fittler

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Panther 286

119 matches [1989-1995]

136 points [31 tries, 5 goals, 2 field goals]

Stats: themightypanthers.com/players_fittler-brad.htm

Cambridge Park junior who burst on to the scene whilst still in Year 12 late in the 1989 season. His wicked right foot side step soon made him one of the feared attacking players in the then Winfield Cup.

Such was Fittler’s immediate impact that in his first full season in 1990 he made his debut for New South Wales (being the state’s youngest ever debutant), and later in the season became the youngest ever player selected for a Kangaroo Tour. He would however have to wait until 1991 to make his Test debut.

He was becoming increasingly versatile, being equally adept in the backline as a centre, in the halves as a five-eighth and in the forwards as a lock. At the age of 20, he was one of the key players in Penrith’s charge towards their maiden premiership in 1991, being responsible for setting up Brad Izzard’s crucial try in the second half in the grand final.

By 1992, he was becoming an incumbent on the representative scene.

As the Panthers premiership fortunes tumbled heading into the mid 1990s, Fittler was one of the few shining lights, and whilst not appointed club captain, would be one Penrith’s leaders on the field. “Freddy” would make his 100th appearance for the Panthers in 1994.

With the breakout of the ARL / Super League war in 1995, Fittler had signed a contract to remain with the ARL, whilst Penrith as a club had signed to be one of the teams in the new rebel league. With a mooted start in 1996, it meant that he would depart the Panthers at the end of the season, where he would sign with the Sydney Roosters.

However, in his last season at Penrith, he would become the club’s first ever Test captain in the home Test series against New Zealand as well as the World Cup later that year, as well as lead New South Wales in the State of Origin series.

In 2003, Fittler was captain of the Roosters side that lost to the Panthers in the grand final. He would retire at the end of the 2004 season, pursuing careers in both coaching and the media.

In 2006, Fittler was named at five-eighth in the Panthers “Team of Legends” that had been assembled to commemorate the club’s 40th season.

PLAYERS | Nathan Smith

461_smith-nathan

Panther 461

121 matches [2007-2013]

48 points [12 tries]

Stats: themightypanthers.com/players_smith-nathan.htm

Canberra junior who debuted for the Raiders in 2004, and followed newly appointed coach Matthew Elliott to the Panthers in 2007.

Smith would quickly establish himself as a durable and reliable mainstay in the Panthers forward, predominantly as a lock, and only missing 5 matches in his first four seasons. In 2009, he would lead Penrith in one match as captain.

However, by 2011 injuries would start setting in and limit the number of appearances over the next 3 seasons.

Whilst he played his last NRL match in 2013, he continued to provide good service to the NSW Cup team and leaving the Panthers at the end of 2015.

Smith has not officially retired from the game, still playing for St. Mary’s in the third tier Ron Massey Cup as of 2020.

Page last updated 17 February 2021

PLAYERS | Kevin Dann

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Panther 138

121 matches [1977-1984]

318 points [40 tries, 98 goals, 1 field goal]

Stats: themightypanthers.com/players_dann-kevin.htm

Blacktown junior who made his debut as a fullback at the age of 19.

He would soon emerge as a star performer in an underperforming Panthers team in the late 1970s and early 1980s, first of all as a fullback before being shifted around in a number of positions in the backline as well as five-eighth.

In 1980, he was selected at fullback for New South Wales in Game 2 of the Interstate Series against Queensland. A postscript to this was that he would be dropped for the third game of the series, which would also become the first ever State of Origin match.

He was also for a time the club’s number 1 goal kicker, and being the club’s top point scorer in 1981 and 1982.

Dann prematurely retired at the end of the 1983 season, however, would be convinced by new incoming coach Tim Sheens to run around again, but would play just one match in 1984 before retiring for good.

Sadly he passed away in 2021 aged 62.

Last updated 22 November 2021

PLAYERS | Grahame Moran

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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. At the end of that season, he was was suspended for alleged doping offences and in 2021 accepted a three year ban, effectively ending his NRL career making just under 300 appearances.

Last updated 23 November 2021

Penrith Panthers – from chocolate soldiers to black magic