2013 NRL Premiership
By W D Nicolson - February 28, 2013
Last Year: 15th with 8-16 record for 20 points.
The rebuilding has kicked into overdrive at the foot of the mountains, and after just 8 wins in 2012 - can Penrith's faithful fans expect much more in 2013? The star power the Panthers did have is practically gone (with Michael Jennings the latest casualty) and instead Penrith roll out a squad that is chock full of depth chart players...
| Click Logo for 2013 Team Preview | Link added when published
Dean Whare has the best chance to be a difference maker if he is the real deal at fullback. Given coach Ivan Cleary has stuck with the Lachlan Coote to five-eighth plan during the pre-season, Whare will get every opportunity to perform in the #1. Sika Manu and Lewis Brown are the two other name signings who could lift the Panthers. Then there is James Segeyaro who is a weapon out of dummy half but looks stuck behind a handy #9 in Penrith skipper Kevin Kingston for any meaningful game time...
BEST LINE-UP | If every player is available, this is the top squad listed 1-17.
Remainder of Top 25 Squad/NSW Cup:
Sam ANDERSON, Liam AYOUB, Anthony CHERRINGTON, Cameron CIRALDO, Geoff DANIELA, Adam DOCKER, Tom EISENHUTH, Danny GALEA, Tom HUMBLE, Isaac JOHN, Jeremy LATIMORE, Mose MASOE, Kane MORGAN, Matt MOYLAN, Kyle O'DONNELL, Mosese PANGAI, Nigel PLUM, Travis ROBINSON, David SIMMONS, Blake SOUTH, Vaipuna TIA-KILIFI, Brad TIGHE.
Notables from U20s:
Bryce CARTWRIGHT, George JENNINGS, Kieran MOSS, James ROBERTS, Tony SATINI.
PREDICTED ROUND 1 TEAM
Coote will be the five-eighth for at least the first couple of months and Whare will get a shot at the #1. Brown probably starts in the second row, Austin or John only get a shot if Walsh isn't fit in Round 1, while the bench could is wide open.
Bench: Segeyaro, Weston, Latimore, Manu.
Make sure you take a look at our dedicated NRL Injured List
The kid everyone wants to see debut is second rower Vaipuna Tia-Kilifi but he has yet to feature in any of the trials and there is not a single word about his whereabouts from the Panthers. If he is still with the club - he's a player Cleary has to give a chance to play but the Panthers are stocked deluxe in the backrow, so even if he's healthy - he's no sure thing to get decent game time.
HOME GAME YOU CAN'T MISS
If Cronulla was visiting Centrebet Stadium in 2013 - that would be the game easily, with Michael Gordon and Luke Lewis now Sharks. So the logical game to replace it is the season and home opener against Canberra on Sunday March 10 at 2pm. If Penrith are going to win back their fanbase with the Phil Gould/Cleary master plan - they need to perform in front of a big crowd in Round 1.
Slim... about 8 other teams have to fall over for Penrith to get a sniff.
They don't have the cattle to make the semis unless a number of squads struggle mightily in 2013. Cleary wants this to be a united squad after clearing out what he didn't want and this season remains more about building strong club foundations for 2014/2015 than featuring in September 2013. Nine or ten wins would be a handy platform to build on.
@NRLTweet's PREDICTED REGULAR SEASON FINISH
15th | Cleary has decided to move forward with increased depth over star power and that might keep them off the very bottom... just.
Remember if you want game-specific Late Mail every week, then check out our Round Previews Every Wednesday and they are updated with all the very latest Late Mail on Friday.
If we are missing any players on this list - please comment below, reply on Twitter or email this address.
The Prestigious Award returns for a 4th season in 2013.
Review all of the voting results from 2012 right here
Remember you can track all the votes each week after each match in 2013 via the Twitter hashtag #nrltweetpoty