27/02/2024

Panthers players celebrating a try. Photo: nrl.com

The Panther squad for the Grand Final oozes class and leadership, with Tevita Pangai Junior the only change Ivan Cleary was forced to make

The Penrith Panthers have been dealt a blow with new enforcer Tevita Pangai Junior ruling himself out of the Grand Final due to injury.

Despite this Panthers coach Ivan Cleary still enters the decider with a relatively settled and experienced side.

The Inner Sanctum takes a look at the Panthers squad for the 2021 NRL Grand Final

Backs

Brian To’o scoring a try against the Eels. Photo: nrl.com

1. Dylan Edwards: The Panthers underrated fullback will again suit up in the number one jersey in this years Grand Final. Edwards has yet again proven to be a pivotal member of a star studded spine and has continued to execute in the big moments

2. Stephen Crichton: Crichton will line up on the wing in this years Grand Final after spending some time in the centre’s throughout the year. His versatility will be needed when the game is one the line.

3. Paul Momirovski: Momirovski returned to the team in their round 21 clash with the Roosters and hasn’t looked back after being in and out of the team all season.

4. Matt Burton: The up and coming playmaker has enjoyed his move into the centres this season being named in the Dally M Team of the Year, proving to be a jack of all trades. He has had 13 try assists, scored 16 tries, ran for 2,724 metres and kicked for 2,776 metres and he’s ability to be so damaging in multiple areas will prove invaluable on Sunday night.

5. Brian To’o: Exciting winger Brian To’o has taken his game to another level in 2021 that has seen him elevated the team of the year. After returning from an ankle injury in the preliminary final win he will be looking to add to his 15 tries for the season.

6. Jarome Luai: Luai will cap off another stellar season with a Grand Final appearance. His form has been up and down since State of Origin due to injury but is primed for a big game when his teams needs it.

7. Nathan Cleary: The co-captain will again take his place at halfback after escaping a dangerous tackle charge on Storms Kenny Bromwich in the preliminary final. Cleary comes into the grand final off the back of the a stellar season that saw him finish second in the Dally M Medal.

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Forwards

Kurt Capewell in action against the Storm in the preliminary final. Photo: nrl.com

8. Moses Leota: Leota returns in place of the injured Pangai Junior after the prop missed out on the preliminary final due to injury. Leota’s strength has been a feature of his game all year with 30 tackle breaks and 968 post contact metres.

9. Apisai Korosiau: The Panthers hooker had another stellar season that saw him nominated for the Dally M Hooker of the Year award. He was influential in last weeks win over the Storm without his back-up Mitch Kenny on the bench, and without Kenny again this week expect Korosiau to be just as influential.

10. James Fisher-Harris: Could be in some doubt to play despite being named, after carrying a knee injury. If he can play he will be crucial to the Panthers chances in the enforcer type role in the absence of Pangai Junior.

11. Villiame Kikau: It has been another stellar season for Kikau, who started on the bench last week due to a limited preparation with an ankle injury. With another week of training under his belt he should be right to go, it will be up to Cleary to decide whether he starts on the field or the bench.

12. Kurt Capewell: In what will be his last game or the club Capewell will be looking to go out on a high. He has been solid for the Panthers all season and will be looking to draw on his State of Origin experience to get his team over the line.

13. Isaah Yeo: Fresh of team of the year selection, co-captain Yeo has proven to be a pivotal cog in the Panthers machine all season. It will be a fascinating battle with his opposite number Cameron Murray, and if Yeo can outperform his counterpart and walk away with a premiership ring then he may prove to undoubtedly be the lock of the year.

Interchange

Liam Martin scoring a try. Photo: nrl.com

14. Tyrone May: May returned to the side last week and has held his position for the Grand Final. He will look to provide cover to the Panthers exciting backfield.

15. Scott Sorensen: Dependable as ever, Sorensen could prove to be invaluable for his team as the first choice forward pack tires. He has averaged 91 run metres in his 18 appearances this season.

16. Spencer Leniu: Will look to fill the shoes of Pangai Junior and be the teams enforcer off the bench. Leniu has averaged 82 run metres and had 581.2 post contact metres in his 19 games this year.

17. Liam Martin: The young second-rower is another Panther who has had an exceptional season, making his State of Origin debut. He made his way into the starting side last week despite being named on the bench, which could happen again in the decider.

Reserves

18. Brent Naden: Another who will play his last game of the Panthers if selected. Naden has only made seven appearances this season, four of those as the 18th man. If called upon however, he will be up to the task.

19. Mitch Kenny: Missed the preliminary final due to an ankle injury in the semi-final. He has played 18 games this season as Korosiau’s back up and it will be interesting to see if he enters the fray depending on the mix Cleary decides on.

20. J’maine Hopgood: The 22-year-old lock has only managed five games in his first season in the Panthers top 30 squad. It would take a dramatic injury for him to play.

21. Charlie Staines: Staines was a regular throughout the season playing 21 games and scoring 14 tries, but was dropped after the teams qualifying final loss to the Rabbitohs and has failed to regain his spot in the team.

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