Last year’s runners-up, the Penrith Panthers will need to contest for the premiership the hard way after a first-week finals loss with the departing Kurt Capewell determined to see his career at the club out in the right way.
Since making the move to Penrith before the 2020 season following a four-year stint at Cronulla where he made his debut, Capewell has enjoyed a considerable amount of success – although a premiership still alludes the 28-year-old.
This season is the final chance for Capewell to compete in a grand final for Penrith – who lost to Melbourne in last year’s decider – after agreeing to a three-year deal with the Brisbane Broncos for the 2022 season.
With a short window to go for his time in Penrith, and the impending thought that this weekend’s semi-final against Parramatta in Mackay may be his last for the club, Capewell is determined to finish this part of his playing career on a high.
“It’s obviously something that, it hit me after the game last week, that [it’s] sudden death now,” Capewell said in a press conference on Tuesday.
“I’ll be taking every chance I can to play with these boys and I don’t see it ending this week. Falling short would be a massive disappointment to me so there’s only one option this year.”
The form of the Panthers across the past two years sees Capewell believing the team is capable of winning the Provan-Summons Trophy and that the result of last season is beyond the club now.
“We’ve worked so hard over the last two years to give ourselves this opportunity, they don’t come round that often,” he said.
“We’ve got the squad to do it so like I said, falling short would be a big disappointment for myself so there’s no other option.”
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After a 10-16 first-week finals loss to South Sydney, Capewell says the result won’t hamper the team’s preparation and belief going into a premiership tilt the hard way.
“If anything, we can take more confidence out of [the loss] to be honest,” Capewell told.
“I think, we were nowhere near our best on the weekend and for the last ten minutes there, we sorta looked like we were coming over the top of them so if we can play our best footy, I don’t think anyone can stop us. It’s made me more confident.
“It’s not very often that you play finals footy and get away with not playing your best and still almost come away with a win.
“I think a lot of people say it’s the loss that we needed but I don’t believe that you need to lose to learn your lessons but unfortunately we lost on the weekend and we take our lessons out of that and go into this week a better team.”
Despite the Panthers’ loss against the Rabbitohs which was only their fourth loss of the season, Capewell says he’s motivated and is being the motivator of a team capable of contesting for the premiership the long way round.
“I don’t think we have to change anything. We’ve been playing pretty good footy for the last two years so I don’t see Ivan [Cleary] changing too much,” Capewell said.
“I think, I’ve known for the last two years that we’ve had the team to do it. Unfortunately last year we didn’t get the job done on the big day.
“This week we’ve really just got to concentrate it on us and playing our style of footy which is pretty much that finals template so we’re looking forward to the challenge and can’t wait to get out there.”
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