Panthers are the Darkhorse

It’s always easier for NRL teams when they don’t have the weight of expectations. Be that fan expectations or short odds with the bookmakers, no NRL team wants to be labeled ‘the good things’.

Thats why Penrith could be this seasons darkhorse.

Just look at their juicy odds at present with the bookmakers, odds that probably won’t be so good for too long.

Rugby League analyst Greg Alexander might be a little bit biased to his club, but the astute Fox Sports caller has predicted the Panthers can finish as high as 4th in this years NRL.

But apart from the likes of Alexander and their diehard fans perhaps, no one is really expecting Penrith could go all the way.

The Panthers have however, recruited extremely well.  They look to have a dynamic halves combination now after pairing Luke Walsh with the livewire Travis Burns. Former Sea Eagle and Cowboy – Burns, has been possibly the clubs best player in pre-season and looks set to have a massive year at the foot of the mountains.

The Panthers also have the luxury of good depth at the club. Just looking at the team for Round 1 of the Premiership, the likes of Jarrod Sammut and Daine Laurie aren’t even in the side, yet it looks a good balanced squad for Game 1 against Canberra.

A first up Game against the Raiders will have the mountain men very confident at home. And jumping off to a positive start will only help their cause as they fight to make the Top 8 for the first time in many years.

Staying injury free is key to any side, but for the Penrith forward pack who have been so unlucky with injuries – the likes of Petero Civoniceva, Luke Lewis and Trent Waterhouse all need to be kept on the park this year for the side to have any chance.

The continued growth of Lachlan Coote and Wade Graham has been a massive positive for the club, again bolstering the depth levels out West.

Here is the Penrith Panthers side for Round 1 at CUA Stadium against the Canberra Raiders:

1. Lachlan Coote

2. Michael Gordon

3. Michael Jennings

4. Adrian Purtell

5. Shane Elford

6. Travis Burns

7. Luke Walsh

8. Tim Grant

9.Kevin Kingston

10. Petero Civoniceva

11.Frank Pritchard

12.Trent Waterhouse

13.Luke Lewis

Interchange Bench

14.Sam McKendry

15.Joseph Paulo

16. Matthew Bell

17.Nathan Smith

18.Frank Puletua

19.Nigel Plum

20.Brad Tighe

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