février 21, 2024

NRL news 2023 | Penrith Panthers season preview, player movement, signings; The Mole

2 min read

Stephen Crichton, Matt Burton, Api Koroisau, Kurt Capewell, Viliame Kikau, Tyrone May, Spencer Leniu, Brent Naden and Paul Momirovski … that’s nine members of the 2021 grand final team that began the Panthers dynasty who have now moved on.

Throw in the likes of Daine Laurie, Josh Mansour, Charlie Staines, Jack Cogger, James Tamou, J’maine Hopgood, Sean O’Sullivan, Zane Tetavano, Jaeman Salmon, Tom Jenkins, Jack Hetherington and Robert Jennings who have also been poached by rival clubs and it’s remarkable that the Panthers have managed to keep winning, becoming the first team to produce a premiership three-peat in four decades.

You win one comp and the salary cap makes it tough to go back-to-back as players want more money – and some move elsewhere.

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Win two and it’s tougher – win three and it’s nearly impossible – yet the Panthers have such a great system they will still start the new year as title favourites.

The departure of Crichton and Leniu – two men at the heart and soul of the Panthers machine – will hit hard in 2024.

Stephen Crichton and Spencer Leniu are two major departures for the Panthers. (Getty)

The team has only signed three ‘back-up’ players who add depth but little else, although the livewire Daine Lauire could be a surprise packet in his second coming at the Panthers.

The numbers were immaculate as the Panthers swept away the competition to make it three straight titles this season.

They had the league’s most tackle breaks, best completion rate, most kick metres, most forced dropouts, most kick return metres, conceded least points and least tries and had most try assists.

But having their strength and depth sapped year by year as they continue winning, it is getting that little bit tough each time to keep the dream alive.

Predicted finish: 1st or 2nd

2024 gains: Daine Laurie (Wests Tigers), Brad Schneider (Hull KR), Paul Alamoti (Bulldogs).

2024 losses: Stephen Crichton (Bulldogs), Spencer Leniu (Roosters), Jaeman Salmon (Bulldogs), Jack Cogger (Knights), Tom Jenkins (Knights), Chris Smith (unsigned), Eddie Blacker (unsigned).

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