Despite Panthers coach Matt Elliott and talented youngster Jarrod Sammutt burying the hatchet before the NRL 2009 season kicks off, it seems the question still remains just who will wear the Penrith No.7 jumper? A constant problem for the troubled club in 2008, the halfback position was chopped and changed with no consistency at all. After showing so much promise early on, Jarrod Sammutt was quickly dropped and remained unheard of in the back end of 2009 – with the truth coming out recently that he and coach Elliott had a major falling out through the year.
Stuck for options, Matt Elliott threw the no. 7 jersey at Luke Lewis who performed well but never seemed a long term option for the club.
After Craig Gowers departure to French Rugby Union, the Panthers have really struggled to find a new, consistent halfback.
“The halves is certainly one that I can’t get defensive about when asked that question and there’s some decisions that need to be made there,” Elliott said.
“I really feel that I know who is going to be in (the halves), it’s just where they line up and how we actually use those guys.
“Luke Lewis did a fantastic job (last season) for a guy that had never played that position … probably after a while the responsibilities of playing halfback distracted him from playing his best football.
“Then we’ve got guys like Jarrod Sammutt who I know can make a huge difference to this team and we’ve got some other kids biting at their heels.”
It seems that the pivot role is one position that looks to be more certain; with boom rookie Wade Graham set to keep his No.6 spot. Another option for Penrith maybe fellow rookie Lachlan Coote, soon to return from a knee injury. While currently seen as a fullback, the player could be moulded to play halfback and could form a lethal combination with Graham if given the chance.
If Coote should get the chance and succeed, it could see Sammutt given the fullback role – something he is also no stranger too and wouldn’t be out of place.
“It should be another week or so before I can do some defence work so I should be alright for the trials,” said Coote; the Panthers to play their first trial against Parramatta in Griffith on February 14.
“Matty’s just been moving us around a bit in opposed sessions, playing a bit of fullback, a bit of wing. We don’t really know who’s going to be there at the moment, it all depends on what happens in the trials.”