Penrith supremacy is felt on the world stage ahead of Panthers World Cup final | Nick Tedeschi

Ohen Australia and Samoa step onto the pitch at Old Trafford this weekend with both the Paul Barrière trophy and rugby league greatness on the line, it’s unlikely there will be a bigger frame. proud than the front office of the Penrith Panthers.

After winning back-to-back NRL premierships and sending a record 19 players to the World Cup, a magnificent year for the Panthers will be crowned when eight of their players are likely to face off in the decider. Among those eight will be five notable members of the Penrith back line who beat Parramatta in the NRL Grand Final – not including Clive Churchill medalist Dylan Edwards.

To have eight players from the same club in a World Cup final is extraordinary. Only the great Wigan side of 1992 have had so many in the past 40 years and all eight have played for a losing Great Britain side. The current record for most players from a club with at least one player on each team in the final was jointly held by Melbourne Storm, which had four Australian and two New Zealand players in the 2008 final, and Balmain in 1988, who had five. wearing green and gold and one wearing black and white. No team in the professional era has had at least three players per side in a World Cup final, but that is expected to change when weekend squads are announced.

When the original state came into being, it was presented as state against state, companion against companion. This World Cup final follows a similar rhythm with the close-knit Panthers side coming through the Penrith youth system together to face off in international rugby league’s most important game.

The Australian squad will have Nathan Cleary at half-back, along with Isaah Yeo and Liam Martin starting at the back line. Samoa will have fullbacks Jarome Luai, Stephen Crichton, Brian To’o and Taylan May, as well as impact bench striker Spencer Leniu.

The most compelling of these one-on-one matchups is the one between the Panthers’ halves featuring Cleary and Luai. The two have been the showpieces of the last two premiership races and have won and lost the Origin Series for New South Wales together. They are now in the rare position of facing each other not only without their usual partner on the pitch, but against each other.

It’s not just a battle between two teammates and two great friends, but two players who have very different styles. Cleary, the robotic perfectionist, the product of a rugby league life, the manual of a T. Luai, talkative and energetic, a hare with the instinct of a killer, a real common thread. They are only the second half clubs after Kieran Foran and Daly Cherry-Evans in 2013 to meet in the World Cup final.

Nathan Cleary and Jarome Luai after winning the 2021 NRL Grand Final.
Nathan Cleary and Jarome Luai after winning the 2021 NRL Grand Final. Photography: Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images

Cleary has been more acclaimed during the pair’s careers, but there’s no doubt Luai has had a better World Cup. Luai has earned player of the match honors in three of Samoa’s four wins. He leads the tournament in assists and ranks fourth in offloads. Cleary, meanwhile, was locked in a battle with Cherry-Evans for the starting halfback spot and struggled to get synchronicity with what has been an awkward baseline in nearly every showing.

Luai, as expected, won’t shy away from playing Cleary, saying “there are no friends on the pitch” as the two prepare to meet for the first time since joining forces. faced as St Mary’s and Brothers players in the local Penrith junior competition.

Over the last decade Penrith have created as fine an example of building from within as any club could hope for. Two prime ministers and eight players in a World Cup final testify to both the plan and its execution. Their contribution to the international game and to the development of rugby league in Samoa can and should be part of the adulation the club enjoys.

Samoa are, to quote their coach Matt Parish, ‘a dot in the Pacific’, a country that ranks 189th in terms of population and whose preferred code of rugby is not the 13-a-side game. The country should not , in theory, play in a Rugby League World Cup final. Among the diaspora however, rugby league is incredibly popular – evidenced by Pasifika’s increased participation at all levels of the game in Australia and New Zealand.

What no club before Penrith sought to do, however, was fully embrace the Pasifika way, often trying to force square pegs into round holes in what have usually been very rigid schedules within teams of the NRL. Penrith, on the other hand, has fully invested in ensuring that Pasifika-born players can play in a style and with an attitude that they not only feel comfortable with, but embrace.

The flow has been the development of a rugby league cultural identity for Samoa as well as a pipeline of quality players from the NRL’s most successful side who want to transfer that success to the international stage and the country. of their ancestors.

The World Cup final will see mat against mat. But unlike State of Origin where clubs watch in fear, brokers at Penrith should be able to sit back and watch how well they’ve done for the game and how far their decisions have come.

#Penrith #supremacy #felt #world #stage #ahead #Panthers #World #Cup #final #Nick #Tedeschi

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.